With the global health pandemic in the recent past and amid current economic uncertainty, business resilience is top of mind. The temptation is to retreat back to safety, closing in the walls around us until the storm clears. But the recent past is a clear reminder that resilience isn’t about holding still to survive with conservative thinking but rather creating a reality where we can adapt to thrive both today and tomorrow.
Leaders in the market are embracing creative resilience, but what is creative resilience? We define creative resilience as “using a cooperative mindset, facilitating empowering conditions, and testing exploratory practices to achieve resilience such that your organization can deliver on its vision and brand promise no matter the crisis.” You may be thinking about Netflix and its creative use of chaos engineering that has since spread like wildfire across every industry and digital platform or the invention of the technical debt concept by Ward Cunningham to communicate a business case for reducing obsolescence in custom code to fight off systemic risk. These are great examples — but they are extreme examples. Creative resilience happens every day in ordinary companies with game-changing results.
Take the US Postal Service (USPS). It handled 129 billion pieces of mail and 7.3 billion packages in 2020. That’s 40% of the world’s mail. Every shipment needs to be reviewed, processed, and delivered. It was taking eight to 10 people across several days to track down items. It also required two weeks on a network of servers with 800 CPUs to handle these tasks. To ensure quality and gain greater efficiency, the USPS introduced edge servers at locations paired with computer vision to do image verification to search for postage status, identify damaged barcodes, and measure package size/weight. Now, it takes one or two people a couple of hours and 20 minutes across four GPUs on a single server. At the start of the project, the USPS didn’t think this outcome was even possible. This approach bolstered its business resilience by investing in dependable IT systems, using AI and automation to get fast insights, addressing painful complications in the supply chain, and dealing with an overwhelming risk to the business. Not only that, but USPS employees can give customers answers and reduce their daily toil.
I have the honor of giving a keynote on this topic at Forrester’s premier technology event, the Technology & Innovation North America Forum, this September 10–12. I will talking about what it takes to be creative and the best resilience levers to explore in your quest for creative resilience. I will bring fresh stories to inspire and real tangible ways to take action. I hope to see you all there!
Leading up to the event, I’ll be highlighting other stories of companies that got creative about business resilience via my blog.