Respond, recover, thrive with Deloitte’s crisis plan

By Janet Brice
Deloitte advocate how a resilient leader can help organisations respond to a crisis and follow the three-step plan towards a “better normal...

Adaptability, preparedness, collaboration, responsibility and ethics are considered the five traits of a resilient leader in a report by Deloitte Insights which explores how companies can improve their response to a crisis.

“Resilient organisations rapidly and successfully cycle through three phases - Respond, Recover, Thrive - not just for COVID-19 but for every crisis,” says the new report, The journey of resilient leadership, Building organisational resilience.

"While promising results from vaccine trials - perceived by global CEOs as the highest priority on the path to recovery - encourage us to set our sights on a “better normal” progress has been more looping than linear,” says the author Punit Renjen of Deloitte Insights.

“Regardless of where each of our organisations is on the journey from Respond to Recover to Thrive, virtually every CEO I interact with agrees on one thing: The journey involves an ever-accelerating pace of change.

“Achieving a better normal is not just about having a better map; it’s about having the nimble team, resources, and systems that enable us to thrive before, during, and after change (especially adversity). It’s about having a resilient organisation.”


According to Deloitte’s report, resilience is not a destination; it is a way of being. 

“A resilient organisation is not one that is simply able to return to where it left off before the crisis. Rather, the truly resilient organisation is one that has transformed, having built the attitudes, beliefs, agility, and structures into its DNA that enable it to not just recover to where it was, but vault forward - quickly.”

Deloitte also points out it is about having an inspiring leader who possesses the five traits that can connect all aspects of an organisation. “Resilient leaders know that responding to disruption with agility is about more than survival. It’s about uncovering value,” comments Renjen.

“Discontinuities create obstacles, but also open new paths for discoveries and value creation. Market structures, business models, ecosystem relationships, and customer needs are dramatically reshaped, and the winners script the future. The same has been true during the COVID-19 market disruption.”

According to Deloitte the key actions on the road to a resilient organisation are the following:

  • Beliefs: Explore and leverage opportunities on the trail of the pandemic
  • Attitudes: Lead your team through the mindset shifts to navigate a path to resiliency
  • Agility: Embrace collective agility by convening stakeholders to codesign the answers to company-critical challenges
  • Structures: Ensure C-suite members are accountable for the seven key elements of a resilient organisation


“The situation pivots from a tenuous interim normal to actively pursuing a better normal. Leaders must therefore chart their organisation’s strategic destination as it emerges into Thrive, said Deloitte. 

A Fortune/Deloitte CEO survey signalled key elements of that better normal: 96% of CEOs said that diversity, equity, and inclusion are strategic priorities, and 78% expect a consistent focus on sustainability and carbon reduction.

“The leadership attitude shifts from reinventing ways of doing business in the interim to a pioneering ethos, one in which you focus on inspiring and empowering the team to follow you.

“During the Recover phase, the focus shifted from internal to market-facing. Now, however, we shift to market-making,” says the report. A total of 74% of the CEOs in the survey expect the crisis to create significant new market-making opportunities

Collective agility to thrive

According to the report, today’s leaders can build resiliency by convening the full ecosystem to collaborate and define the journey together – known as collective agility.

“As my colleagues have seen in their work with various client organisations, the accelerated delivery of viable vaccines demonstrates this type of collective agility across a whole system of stakeholders,” says Renjen.

Deloitte found that the vast majority of organisational needs cluster into one of seven categories:

  • Resilient strategy -Define the transformation journey and ambition
  • Resilient growth - Drive customer focus, product innovation and market/revenue growth
  • Resilient operations - Transform and modernise operations
  • Resilient technology - Accelerate digital transformation
  • Resilient work - Transform the work, workforce and workplace
  • Resilient capital - Optimise working capital, capital structure and business portfolio
  • Resilient society - Steward environmental and social resources through trust, response, governance and measurement

“Each of these elements needs to be strong independently. Taken together, the seven elements operate within a cohesive, interdependent web that reinforces each of the parts and enhances the adaptability of the organisation,” comment Deloitte.

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