The Sins and virtues of organizational Resilience

With the business world constantly changing, organizations know: Business resilience is a critical requirement for success. But what keeps organizations from becoming resilient? This series of articles will unfold 8 sins that prevent resilience and give insight on 4 virtues to create a company culture that enables excellence.

The first known theoretical elaboration of the deadly sin’s dates to the 3rd century and defines 8 evil vices. Curiously enough, the elaboration appears after the disorders caused by a pandemic in the Roman Empire. The 8 vices started to be redefined from the 7th century onwards in the 7 deadly sins that are known today: Pride, Greed, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Envy and Wrath.

Like the early theologians, this blog series will look at 8 evil vices that threaten the resilience of organizations. Our vices should be understood in the sense of bad habit in the culture of a company, or as habits of doing wrong. And in this understanding, what is evil, bad or wrong? Negative is that which prevents resilience. The business world is undergoing rapid, unpredictable change. However, across industries, many companies remain eagerly focused on near- and medium-term earnings, assuming ongoing smooth business conditions.

Upholding known methods and strategies as if they are rooted in the DNA of a company can therefore be a comfortable but dangerous habit. To become resilient organizations, need a new approach. They need to welcome change as an enriching aspect of their business. Catastrophic events will grow more frequent but less predictable. They will unfold faster, but in more varied ways. The digital and technology revolution, climate change, and geopolitical uncertainty will all play major roles (exhibit). Change is a continuous factor and that will never stop. The only way to manage it is to be ready to let go of habits and ways that don’t serve the current needs any more and to always be able to keep doing that.

And what is resilience?

For us, resilience is falling and getting back up stronger, it is trying until it succeeds, it is rising from the ashes, but even better, it is not getting burnt and being able to take flight every time the winds are not favourable. The R Company describes the archetype of a resilient organization that understands the need to respond and adapt to a rapidly changing, hyper-connected world. With the idea of resilience, active change management is being taken one step further: Resilient organizations are known to be change-ready. Always.

For companies to be resilient, it is essential that their human capital has habits and customs that favour and promote resilience. To understand how to successfully enable these customs, it is important to understand the key principles of the R Company.

  • Anchor lean culture in your DNA!
  • Maximize performance with agility!
  • Thrive in the digital now!
  • Enable strategic alliances!
  • Invest in knowledge & know-how!

We have gathered our detailed approach on these values for you in one of our other articles. While unfolding what is preventing and providing organizational resilience, we will showcase that resilience is measurable. We can measure the resilience of a company’s culture and their people through grounding our elaboration on its sins and virtues theoretically on the circumplex model by Cooke and Laferty.

This visual model provides a scientific approach on how to develop resilience in the people of an organization. It does so by visualizing the effects that thinking and behavioural styles have on the performance of people. The theory provides a common language to discuss, measure and quantify these behaviours. At Avance we have refined the frame of the model towards our vision of resilient organizations. And we can say proudly, it has been applied, reviewed, and validated by our international clients for more than 20 years.

As you can see in the graphic above, the model visualizes factors underlying the performance of individuals and group at all levels according to 12 different behaviours.

They are then grouped under three general clusters:

  • Aggressive/Defensive
  • Passive/Defensive
  • Constructive

The colours blue, green, and red graphically depict statistical results and the intensity of scales of behaviours in terms of percentile scores. This provides organizational results and measures resilience.

The 8 Sins

As mentioned, we will now elaborate on our 8 sins against resilience: Approval, Conventionalism, Dependency, Avoidance, Opposition, Power, Competition and Perfectionism.

The Approval scale measures our need to be accepted by others to increase or sustain our feelings of self-worth. While the desire to be approved of is natural, problems occur when approval-seeking becomes a need, and ultimately our standard way of interacting with others.

In comparison, the Conventional scale measures our tendency to act in a conforming way. While some conformity is necessary in life, too much can be restrictive. When we rely on established routines to determine how we do things, we risk losing our Sense of uniqueness and individuality.

The degree to which people feel that their efforts do not count is being visualized by the Dependent scale. When dependent behaviour occurs because of a temporary life change, the feelings of dependency tend to diminish as the situation is resolved.

Next, the Avoidance scale measures the tendency to use a defensive strategy of withdrawal. Whether avoidance behaviour becomes extreme depends upon the nature of what people perceive as threatening.

In contrast, the Oppositional scale measures our tendency to use the defensive and aggressive strategy of disagreeing with others, and to seek attention by being critical and cynical.

The tendency to associate one’s self-worth with the degree to which they can control and dominate others is being visualized by the Power scale.

Furthermore, the Competitive scale measures the need to establish a sense of self-worth through competing against and comparing oneself to others. While it is largely encouraged and accepted as a measure of success, competitive behaviour is not an effective predictor of achievement in business.

Similarly, the Perfectionist scale measures the degree to which we feel a driven need to be seen by others as perfect. Rather than working to make things the best they can be, perfectionists need to seek flawless results. Perfectionism originates in a fear of failure.

The 4 Virtues

Obviously, in front of the sins there are the highly achievable virtues, and we have gathered four that create a company culture that lead an organization towards excellence and resilience.

So, here are the 4 virtues: Affiliative, Humanistic, Self-Actualizing and Achievement.

The Achievement scale measures a way of thinking that is highly associated with personal effectiveness. Scores indicate our interest in, as well as our-proficiency at, attaining high-quality results on challenging projects.

Moreover, the Self-Actualizing scale measures a way of thinking that results in the highest form of personal fulfilment. Becoming self-actualized is the final step in one's growth and maturation process.

Our interest in people, our tendency to care about others, and our ability to encourage them to improve, is being measured by the Humanistic-Encouraging scale. This absolute acceptance enables people to grow the most and take greater responsibility for them-selves and their team.

Lastly, the Affiliative scale measures our degree of commitment to forming and sustaining satisfying relationships. This represents the wish for social interaction and interpersonal contact, such as team success.

Our different chapters of the sins and virtues around resilience where only introduced today. To get a detailed account on them, find out how to identify them and most importantly how to avoid or acquire them, stay posted for weekly updates of this blog post series!

Can’t wait to find out more? Get in touch with one of our experts right away!