In today’s Belgium, there’s a lot of talk about resilience. “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”. Boris Cyrulnik, french neurologist and psychiatrist invented the term. Cyrulnik is a survivor of deportation, and his findings are that childhood trauma doesn’t always result in adult damage but often in strength instead. These heroes develop inner strength to bounce back and start again.
From kids to Belgium: Can Belgium bounce back? Develop optimism to see through grief. Take the opportunity to review accepted traditional thinking. It takes vision to step back, humility to rethink, courage to renovate established ways. Action to avoid things happening again. Cities around the world are launching resilience-buidling programs (eg 100RC). They view resilience not just for post-shocks (earthquakes, floods or terrorism) but also as a capacity to react to the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day-to-day or cyclical basis.
From Belgium to companies: How about company’s strategic resilience? In a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, changing & ambiguous) world, there’s a constant need to re-evaluate & adapt. Growth-hacking start-ups question and crush entry-barriers to ANY industry. No hesitation to shift business models, rip out unnecessary costs/pains/tensions or intermediaries.
Nokia and Kodak were famously UNresilient to those shocking shifts. They refused to acknowledge new realities, too focused as they were on their traditional core business and defensive KPI’s. It led them to neglect the potential impact of innovation, as that requires new KPI’s.
This continuous need for reinvention leads us to today’s question :
Is resilient strategy a capability you can create?
Which companies adapt faster?
And can we translate this capability to our marketing skills?
1. Resilient brands continue to bring value. They keep bouncing ahead to anticipate users’ (often unconscious) needs & stay relevant to me. The brand’s value isn’t a funny tagline or a cute campaign. Brands have long worked to become mental shortcuts in our brains. In this data-overload era, where clutter is the norm, this role become a responsibility: Brands should filter out ambient noise, take away the irrelevant and deliver need-based right/personalised/contextual solutions or services that add value to my specific situation.
2. Integrate the new: “Digital” transforms the way we consume information, scan and absorb media, the way we make decisions. Relationships with brands must change as a result. Eg Airbnb or Uber know that we trust peers more than brands. Their nr 1 priority is to establish these ‘networks of trust’ between strangers (I dare to come and stay with you because 87 reviews give you a 4.5-star rating).
A resilient brand integrates new possibilities but also expectations technology brings. They get inspiration from what other early adopter companies achieve.Resilience is not « make do », it’s "make with". A resilient person extracts a project from a trauma (we find a lot of artists in resilient people): looking at all painpoints, how can I add value to the category, to my B2B partners, to my end-user by integrating new tools?
3. Resilient brands question their own strategy. Any product portfolio, brochure or packaging, media and marketing mix should be questioned (frequently) before someone else does it for you. Fast adapters review their customer experience based on early signals caught in their periphery. They listen and stay close to their most innovative (or critical?) customers. They develop a culture with the ability to keep engaging these innovators, keep searching to motivate them (anticipating that the mass/mainstream’ll follow soon). They’re able to invest into new products/media/tools that disrupt what they had established themselves to keep ahead. They focus on tensions before any Uber does it for them. Entrepreneurial start-ups manage to iterate faster as they have less (core-business) to lose, can I stimulate this rebel maverick-ness in some parts of the business?
4. Keep the pulse. Resilience has been the blood of great marketing. Strong brand communication is grounded in deep user-understanding of what its customers believe, how they make decisions, where consume media. In the old advertising days, we would call this an “insight”. Because of the flood and granularity of user data we have, we’re moving to ever-increasingly demanding insights. Resilient brands understand insights & match these with what the brand/company is good at. They find story-telling ways to bring its solutions as an answer to the newfound need.
Can part of my senior ‘N’ (intuition - mbti link) team be that that keeps researching and experimenting to anticipate the market, while the efficient ‘S’ (sensing) stay focused on short-term volume? There’s no obvious link between mobile devices and pharma, but with wearables and algorithms I can develop hand-held services for my diabetes’ group to stay top-of-mind, listen to them, cater to their changing needs.
How do you recognise resilient leaders/companies/brands?
happy debates ahead!
Gregory Berleur & Thomas Mees