“Salio” means “to jump” in Latin. More specifically, the verb was used to depict people who were able to resist difficulties and managed to jump off an upside-down boat in order to save their lives.
That is the etymological origin of “Resilience”, a word that nowadays describes “the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress”.
We are living in times of unprecedented disruption; in times like these, those very same characteristics can be found in the people and companies that are able to resist and survive.
Resilient businesses pull their fractured pieces together after the unimaginable has hit them. Resilient entrepreneurs and executives glimpse the opportunities that lay ahead and seize the moment to innovate and strengthen their team and culture.
Within this context, prioritizing innovation means “resalio”; in other words, to jump off the boat and do what it takes to survive, including accepting the realization that business as usual may simply be a thing of the past. Short- and long-term innovation happens as a result of a quick and profound understanding of clients’ and society’s rapidly changing needs, paired with a less rigid hierarchy and more flexible roles.
During the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in China, one company seized the opportunity to change their business model to online shopping to respond to the needs of self-quarantining customers. Today, that company is the $500 billion e-commerce giant Alibaba.
And yet, growth is not the only way, nor even the best way, to be resilient. True resilience is measured not by growth alone but by the social impact of innovation. For instance, consumers have been increasingly demanding that companies address stakeholders in society at large instead of narrowly maximizing the interests of the few.
Especially now that human fragility has become so topical on account of the current pandemic, people have changed their perception of what it’s like to be human. In this context, a monolithic model of profit-maximization may no longer be tolerable. Now more than ever, doing good also makes business sense. Moreover, if the realities of the pandemic pressure companies to offer better benefits to their employees, the privileges only currently available to the 1% will naturally become more accessible. The more that any given company develops strong and authentic relationships with its workers, customers, and stakeholders, the more likely it will be to make it through challenging times.
The Davos Manifesto for better capitalism and the Conscious Capitalism movement are steps in this direction. In addition, models holding companies accountable to larger communities of stakeholders already exist and are becoming more popular. A prime example is the B Corporation movement that through its B Lab uses strict standards to measure companies’ social and environmental performance, certifying only those that are considered to be a force for good.
Government also has a role to play in resilience. What if companies were incentivized by law to generate positive impact for society as a whole by acting in the interests of a broader community of stakeholders (e.g. customers, workers, environments, and ecosystems)? Stronger and healthier relations of these kinds will not only make companies more resilient, but will make the planet and its people mor resilient as well.
In these times, the very fabric of our society calls for radical innovation. Resilient business is one of the cornerstones of a resilient economic system that can work for 100% of humanity.
Read more about the author Advantary Advisor, Giulia Davis.