Article: Resilience is all about anticipating what is going to happen, says Pearson’s Mark Couchman

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Resilience is all about anticipating what is going to happen, says Pearson’s Mark Couchman

During an insightful discussion into how to build resilient organisations, Mark Couchman, Director of Global Corporate Business, ELL Pearson, gave a sneak peek into their organisational approach: Anticipate, Prepare, Respond and Adapt.
Resilience is all about anticipating what is going to happen, says Pearson’s Mark Couchman

For an organisation to continue on the path of success, it must have an agile and resilient core. This is especially true in today’s times, with the world of work having to deal with multiple disruptions on the geopolitical, economic and technological fronts. 

How can resilience to disruptions and agility to quickly adapt to change become an integral part of the organisation? By crafting a workforce that is keen on learning, is ready to upskill and continues to thrive even in uncertain times. 

At TechHR 2023, Asia’s largest work tech and HR conference, People Matters hosted a Think Tank session where the who’s who of the industry came together to discuss The Workforce of Tomorrow: Building A Resilient & Sustainable Organisation. The session was chaired by Saurabh Sharma, Global Head TA, OLX Autos (Asia, LatAm & US), and the panel included Mark Couchman, Director Global Corporate Business, ELL Pearson, and Nanjappa B S, Head HR-APAC, LATAM, Enabler Functions and Employee Relations, Infosys. 

Reorienting towards resilience

“In the last couple of years, we have lived decades,” said Saurabh Sharma of OLX Auto, speaking about the highly volatile and uncertain environment times that included the pandemic, an economic slowdown, soaring inflation and geopolitical disruption. 

Sharma, quoting a McKinsey report that surveyed over 2,500 business leaders, talked about how 65% of respondents felt their organisations were overtly complex – far from resilient. But why is resilience so important?

“Leaders will be able to unlock greater value if we are able to create organisations that are agile and can quickly adapt to changing circumstances. This resilience can also serve as a powerful differentiator and take an organisation to the next level,” Sharma said, adding that research shows that resilient organisations, in 2020 and 2021, added 50% more to shareholder value than their peers. 

“Resilience for us is all about anticipating what is going to happen – we have seen in the last ten years there has been a massive change in the way we do business. We have to build resilient, adaptable organisations as the environment changes,” Couchman said. 

“Here is our approach: Anticipation, Preparation, Response, and Adapt,” he said, giving a sneak peek into how Pearson approaches volatile situations that may be affecting business.   

“I feel resilience is the strength of character, and to create timeless organisations, you need that strength of character,” said Nanjappa B S, Head HR-APAC, LATAM, Enabler Functions and Employee Relations, Infosys. 

Organisational readiness for volatility 

With almost 3.3 billion of the total 8 billion population of the world working in organisations, being at work shapes lives and lived experiences for so many people. So what happens when this aspect of life – being at work – enters a state of constant flux? 

“Today, volatility is a feature, not a bug,” Sharma said. 

“We believe in conducting risk assessment whenever a new situation arises. We try and understand what the potential impact is going to be. We then go on to do a crisis evaluation and really drill down on the parts of the business that are going to be affected. It is only then that we build a strategy for the path ahead,” Couchman explained.  

Najappa then spoke about the three factors that are, in his view, critical in building resilience: 

  1. Governance: The strength of your processes and systems and the integrity and rituals of those processes and systems; 

  2. Leadership: How leaders push empowerment downwards and communication upwards and 

  3. Culture: The kind of psychological safety employees feel at work

“There needs to be a continuous internal evaluation of talent and investment in talent acquisition. That can be through learning and development, upskilling and reskilling. We have to understand that as the environment changes, so do the needs of the employee,” Couchman said, adding that in a crisis, it is not necessarily to stop all spending and instead, organisations need to figure out how to spend effectively. 

Couchman also spoke about how it is change that keeps life interesting. “We now see AI coming into the picture – I feel we should not shy away from it and should in fact embrace AI. We need to own AI; it should not be AI owning us,” Couchman said.  

Overcoming barriers to building resilience

“Organisations need to double down on decentralisation and microculture”, Nanjappa said, adding that decisions should be happening closest to where a problems happens. He also said that in today’s times, where the workforce is divided into office goers, hybrid workers and remote employees, HR leaders need to focus on microculture - the cultures that exist in team. 

Applauding failure to build a culture of innovation

Both Couchman and Nanjappa pointed out how it is okay to fail and how failing is actually a stepping stone to resilience in an organisation. 

“We have to applaud failures because only then we will create a culture of innovation,” Nanjappa said. Couchman further said that it's okay to make mistakes. “If you make a mistake, you can react to it, you can change your approach, you can learn from it – it will strengthen the company”. 

Pearson, a global leader in learning, is constantly making its presence felt in more than 200 countries with its extensive range of AI-powered language solutions and assessments. Pearson is currently assisting over 2,000 organisations worldwide not only pinpoint skill gaps but also , chart effective learning journeys by implementing interventions and empowering workforces with credible skill credentials. Click here to find out more. 

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Topics: Leadership, Learning Technology, Talent Management, #TechHRIN

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