WEDNESDAY 20 SEP 2017 3:11 PM


Reputation is big in business. Concerning not only external perceptions, organisational reputation extends to stakeholder engagement, employee retention, overall levels of staff engagement and, crucially, the capacity for a business to generate income. Indeed, the recently published Organisational Resilience Index indicates a global consensus that reputation is the most important element to long-term success in business.

The report, generated by business improvement organisation the British Standards Institute (BSI), details what respondents see as the most and least important factors behind establishing ‘organisational resilience,’ defined by the BSI as “The ability of an organisation to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper.” Distributed globally, the Organisational Resilience Index covers 10 sectors across three regions – UK and Ireland, the US and Asia Pacific.

Unsurprisingly, given recent high-profile cases such as the Bell Pottinger South Africa scandal, the report’s 1,250 participants detail securing a strong reputation and managing risk as vital in establishing a company’s resilience. However, interesting to note is reputation’s precedence over other areas which are traditionally key to business resilience – for example, financial aspects and leadership. Also falling by the wayside is vision and purpose, and information and knowledge management. Howard Kerr, chief executive at BSI, says, “In today’s volatile and uncertain world, understanding what it takes to survive and thrive is tougher than ever.”

“It is encouraging that business leaders understand that success is measured by more than market share, with trust and reputation clearly seen as critical to long-term success.”

More concerning, says Kerr, are the steps being taken by respondents, all of whom are senior figures in their respective organisations, to retain the reputation into which years of work may have gone. The study showed that globally, only 62% of senior leaders rate their organisation’s current reputation as excellent or very good. This figure rises to 75% in the US, but falls to 55% and 56% in the UK and Ireland, and Asia Pacific respectively.

Kerr says, “Our culture of instant communication means that reputations can be destroyed in minutes. This makes it particularly concerning that only 62% of respondents rated themselves as very good or excellent when it came to proactively building their reputation.”

“The challenges identified by our report cannot be addressed with quick and easy fixes, and organisational resilience has no finishing line,” says Kerr. “Instead, weaknesses should be tackled through a process of continual improvement. Past prosperity is no guarantee of future success, and it is only by embedding this kind of culture that organisations will be able to master resilience.”

Interestingly, the seemingly least resilient element of business, as decided by respondents of the study, is supply chain. Whereas reputation is generally in the hands of senior organisational figures, in charge of risk-taking and decision-making, supply chain is often distinct from the company – transience can lead to a lack of transparency, and therefore control.

The study also finds horizon scanning, alignment, community engagement, culture and adaptive capacity perceived to be the least important factors which make up organisational resilience. However, Kerr hopes the study’s findings will encourage more organisations to take a step back and assess their current situations, in order to minimise risk taking and take proactive steps towards securing reputation.

Kerr finishes, “We hope the BSI Organisational Resilience Index provides the inspiration for more firms to embark on this process and reassess whether they measure up to industry best practice across their operations."

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