Project Management

What We Get Wrong About Resilience

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

There is a lot that has been written about resilience in the last while. For many, it is seen as not just a desirable quality, but a necessary one. While this is arguably true in limited instances, it isn’t for the reasons many think—and it doesn’t actually look like what often gets described.

The growing emphasis on the need for resilience is in response to the expansive uncertainty, change and upheaval that we face—societally, organizationally and personally. At each of these levels, it is contended that resilience is a necessary capability. Nations need to be economically resilient. Communities need to be resilient in the face of climate change, service delivery expectations and growth (or, alternatively, decline). Organizations need to be resilient to maintain strategic advantage and compete successfully. Individuals need to be resilient in the face of technical change, employment uncertainty, societal expectations and personal stresses.

That’s a lot. It is true whether you think the world is more or less challenging, the pace of change is more or less rapid, and technological change is more or less extensive. Change has always been a constant, and those changes have been perceived as disruptive by every generation experiencing them.

Someone who is 80 today was born at the end of the last world war, has seen economic booms and busts, …


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