Operational Resilience

What Does Operational Resilience Mean?

Operational resilience is both a process and a characteristic of an organization to adapt rapidly to changing environments and needs. It is an organizational trait that allows it to carry out its mission or business despite the presence of operational stress and disruption. In other words, it is the organization’s ability to handle and control external factors that may hinder it from functioning.


Techopedia Explains Operational Resilience

Operational resilience is an emergent property of a business or organization that enables it to continue operations despite the various disruptions in its environment. For example, organizations and businesses that deal with governments such as cyber-security contractors, building contractors and pharmaceuticals have to deal with always-changing and stringent government requirements or risk losing their contracts or having their products marked unsuitable for distribution. Operational resilience is their ability to anticipate, plan and handle theses external pressures and disruptions so that they can continue running their business. They must have safeguard processes and fallbacks in case something goes wrong and must be able to adjust their business processes quickly in order to adapt to the changing requirement or business landscape. Those that fail to do this will often see big losses.

A good real-world example of operational resilience, or lack thereof, is that of Nokia, which was very resistant to the changes in the smart phone market. When all of its competitors were moving to the Android operating system (OS) in order to be on a competing level with Apple’s iPhone and iOS in 2007-2008, Nokia decided to stick with its own Symbian OS even though it was having a lot of problems with it. This lack of ability to adapt led to its eventual downfall from being the top cell phone manufacturer in the world. Nokia was then acquired by Microsoft in 2013.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.