With the global health pandemic in the recent past and amid the current economic uncertainty, business resilience is top of mind. The temptation is to retreat back to safety, closing in the walls around us until the storm clears. But the recent past is a clear reminder that resilience isn’t about holding still to survive with conservative thinking but rather creating a reality where we can adapt to thrive both today and tomorrow.
Leaders in the market are embracing creative resilience, but what is creative resilience? We define creative resilience as “using a cooperative mindset, facilitating empowering conditions, and testing exploratory practices to achieve resilience such that your organization can deliver on its vision and brand promise, no matter the crisis.”You may be thinking about Netflix and their creative use of chaos engineering that has since spread like wildfire across every industry and digital platform. Or the invention of the technical debt concept by Ward Cunningham to communicate a business case for reducing obsolescence in custom code to fight off systemic risk. These are great examples — but they are extreme examples. Creative resilience happens every day in ordinary companies with game-changing results.
Take the US Postal Service (USPS). They handled 129 billion pieces of mail and 7.3 billion packages in 2020. That’s 40% of the world’s mail. Every shipment needs to be reviewed, processed, and delivered. It was taking 8 to 10 people across several days to track down items. It also required two weeks on a network of servers with 800 CPUs to handle these tasks. To ensure quality and gain greater efficiency, they introduced edge servers at locations paired with computer vision to do image verification to search for postage status, identify damaged barcodes, and measure package size/weight. Now it takes a one or two people a couple of hours, and it takes 20 minutes across 4 GPUs on a single server. At the start of the project — they didn’t think this outcome was even possible. This approach bolstered their business resilience by investing in dependable IT systems, using AI and automation to get fast insights, addressing painful complications in their supply chain, and deal with an overwhelming risk to their business. Not only that, their employees can give customer answers and reduce their daily toil.
I have the honor of giving a keynote on this topic at Forrester’s premier technology event, the Technology and Innovation Forum, this September 10 -12. I will talking about what it takes to be creative and the best resilience levers to explore in your quest for creative resilience. I will bring fresh stories to inspire and real tangible ways to take action. I hope to see you all there!
Leading up to the event, I’ll be highlight other stories of companies that got creative about business resilience via my blog.