We surveyed 2,400 top execs. What they said about their own resiliency will surprise you


By Gavin Day

We’ve lived through a lot of disruptions in the past few years. In case you were hoping things would ease up, you might be disappointed—some experts are predicting disruptions might actually ramp up in 2024. This means that businesses will need to continue to be flexible and resilient. If there’s room for improvement in your organization, it’s a great time to work on growing these capacities across your teams. 

For those whose businesses aren’t where they should be, you’re definitely not alone. A SAS global survey of executives across industries showed that while nearly all executives value resiliency, less than half (47%) actually see their organization as being resilient. Most are working on it, and 85% said they were likely to continue investing in resiliency over the following year. 

There are a lot of strategies you can use to grow your business’s resilience. While the specific steps will depend on where your organization is in the process versus where it wants to be, there are some practices that are nearly universal. So, to help you get there, I’m going to focus on three key steps you can take to help your organization be more prepared for whatever 2024 may have in store. 

Infuse your organization with data and analytics

Many organizations already know the value of data, at least in theory. Putting it into practice may be a different story. 

Data can provide huge insights, from understanding what’s happening externally to identifying areas to improve internally. But it’s not just picking up a few tools to analyze data: it’s about creating a company culture that fosters data fluency among the staff. When every staffer knows how to use data and analytics in their role, organizations will be much better positioned to adapt to changes. 

And this evolution should happen at all levels of the organization. It begins with buy-in from senior leaders who can set expectations for decisions and plans to be anchored in data. But it extends to everyone, including early-career staffers. In fact, junior employees could well be the ones with the greatest data and analytics literacy right off the bat. As one survey participant pointed out:

“I noticed … [with] the trainees, it’s much more natural compared to when I was starting in my career to instinctively look for data to back their hypothesis. So, the way I see it is that the future is definitely going to be much more data-driven and analytics-driven simply because of the people that are coming.” —CFO, Finance

This is all to say that data and analytics adoption can be driven by different members of your team, but the goal is to have a culture of data literacy throughout. This can be nurtured through trainings and seminars with internal and external experts, implementing software that’s easy to use and engaging, and inviting your staff to play roles in choosing which solutions the organization utilizes. A data-driven organization treats data as a key strategic asset. This helps everyone perform better, including the organization itself, especially in the face of disruption.

Don’t fear change: Get curious about it

For most people, change is challenging if not downright scary. But marketplace changes can happen in the blink of an eye and putting your head in the sand as an organization can be fatal. On the flipside, engaging your curiosity about the changes that are coming—or are already here—is vital. 

In our survey, high-resiliency executives were eight times more likely to find curiosity “very valuable” than low-resiliency executives. There were some cross-industry differences. Executives in the life sciences were more likely to value curiosity, and those in government less so, which may not surprise you. But overall, curiosity can be transformative for any organization across fields. It fuels everything from new ways of working and developing outside-the-box innovations to adapting to changing market conditions quickly. 

We surveyed 2,400 top execs. What they said about their own resiliency will surprise you

A sense of curiosity can also help your organization identify brewing disruptions that may be less obvious to competitors. One executive in the tech industry told us: 

A business can be resilient . . . by having that curiosity beyond just what the current headlines are saying or what the current challenges on everybody’s radar. It’s looking for those unexpected challenges. – RVP, Software

Bottom line? Keep a curious mindset and view challenges as exciting and solvable. This can make all the difference when it comes to surviving or succumbing to disruption.

Keep equity and inclusivity front-of-mind 

As we make moves to adapt to the changes that come at us, it’s important we stay aligned with responsible business practices. This includes the clear-cut areas like ensuring data quality and security. But it also means the things that may be harder to quantify like infusing equity across business decisions, from idea generation to development to deployment. It also means actively working to avoid any negative impacts on vulnerable populations. ?

It needs to be very clear in your mind how equity and resilience are related.
—CEO, Healthcare

Working from your organization’s set of guiding principles is critical. Many executives we polled were working on areas like improving sustainability, addressing workforce diversity, ensuring inclusivity in benefits, and conducting trainings focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We also learned that high-resiliency executives took steps to address equity and responsibility in their organizations on a weekly basis. Prioritizing equity, responsibility, and ethics across your organization will help it become more inclusive, agile, and resilient in the long run. 

The full report and the SAS Resiliency Assessment can be found here.

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