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Turbulence: A Corporate Perspective on Collaborating for Resilience

Edited by Roland Kupers
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The ever tighter linking of our food, water, and energy systems in the context of a changing climate is leading to increasing turbulence in the world. As a consequence, it becomes ever more crucial to develop cities, regions, and economies with resilience in mind. Because of multinational corporations' global reach, substantial resources, and information-driven leadership structures, these entities can play a major, constructive role in improving our understanding and design of resilient systems.This volume is the product of the Resilience Action Initiative, a collaboration among Dow, DuPont, IBM, McKinsey, Shell, Siemens, Swiss Re, Unilever, and Yara designed to explore possible corporate contributions to global resilience, especially at the nexus of water, food, and energy. Aggressively forward-thinking and consistent with an enlightened self-interest, the ideas considered here represent a corporate perspective on the broad collaborations required for a more resilient world.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2435-8
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. Editor’s foreword
    (pp. 9-12)
    Roland Kupers

    Faced with an increasingly turbulent world and armed with an intuitive insight as to what was driving the turbulence, the CEO’s of a group of multinational companies spanning across multiple industries joined forces to explore what their value could and should be in such a changed context.

    Turbulence is at the same time familiar and somewhat frightening. Familiar when we dial up the volume on a water tap and the water suddenly no longer flows smoothly. Somewhat frightening when colliding airflows mix and lead to a bumpy flight. Something similar happens in socio-economic systems, interacting with the natural environment.¹ When...

  4. Preface
    (pp. 13-16)
    Peter Voser
  5. Turbulence – by way of an introduction
    (pp. 17-20)
    Michel Liès

    Sipping a cup of tea during a flight through blue skies is easy. If stormy weathers bring about considerable air turbulence, this simple task rapidly becomes pretty difficult. Clouds announce a storm – hence one can prepare and safely stow the cup away in due time. But what if there are no visible early warning signs, as is the case with clear–air turbulence? And what if turbulence prevails? When will be the next chance to take a sip of tea again?

    Such are the challenges for a global economy, which has grown fast for decades, providing wealth and more...

  6. Part I Introduction to RAI

    • 1 The Resilience action initiative: An introduction
      (pp. 23-34)
      Maike Böggemann and Norbert Both

      At first glance, large multinational companies such as Dow, DuPont, IBM, Royal Dutch Shell, Siemens and Swiss Re are resilient companies: they each have been around for over a century. But the future is volatile. The challenge these companies face today is how to help strengthen societal resilience in the face of increasing systemic turbulence caused by resource and environmental stresses – posing new risks to business continuity and therefore to their existence over the next 100 years.

      These companies share a belief that the resilience lens can help. Resilience is the ability to absorb disturbances, to change, to reorganise,...

  7. Part II The resilience lens

    • 2 A pragmatic frame to explore resilience
      (pp. 37-48)
      Marco Albani and Roland Kupers

      In a world faced with increasing volatility and turbulence, business leaders find the idea of working to bolster the resilience of the economic systems in which they operate both attractive and intuitive. Yet we found that operationalising this idea is quite difficult, and it is especially difficult to do so in a way that fully captures the richness of perspective that resilience and complexity sciences have developed over the last four decades.

      The complexity stems from the fact that resilience is an emergent property of complex systems that is revealed in the face of uncertain events, and as such is...

    • 3 A resilience lens for enterprise risk management
      (pp. 49-66)
      David N. Bresch, Jaap Berghuijs, Rainer Egloff and Roland Kupers

      What happens when a fire strikes at the manufacturing plant of the sole supplier of semiconductors used in millions of cell phones? What can a food company do when the natural environment from which it draws its resources is increasingly degraded? And how can a company increase its fitness with respect to unforeseeable challenges? To survive and thrive in the face of stress and disruption, a company can seek for enterprise resilience, which we here define asthe capacity of business to survive, successfully adapt and prosper in the face of change and uncertainty related to disturbances with a high...

    • 4 Multi-sector collaboration for resilience
      (pp. 67-78)
      Mark Smith

      Change is a challenge familiar to corporate leaders. Professor John Kotter of Harvard Business School, in his classic bookLeading Change,² set out an 8-step process for successfully managing change in organisations. These build from creating a sense of urgency and convening a coalition of champions through to empowering people to take action and embedding change in new cultures. Kotter argued for strategies for managing change that are not trapped by top-down, command-and-control dominance. He made the case that organisational change will be more successful where efforts are made to help people to re-learn the expectations and norms within an...

    • 5 Building resilience through teamwork Seven tips to make it work
      (pp. 79-84)
      Marco Albani and Kimberly Henderson

      Resilience often challenges cross-jurisdictional boundaries and require systemic changes beyond the capabilities of individual companies or even of an entire industry. In these cases, the best approach for business can be to partner up – with governments, investors, local communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and other companies. Think of these partnerships as distinctive and complicated joint ventures, often with multiple parties.

      Such collaborations often go through phases – good, bad, and sometimes ugly, particularly in the early days. In its first few years, the Marine Stewardship Council, a partnership that sets standards for the fishing industry, struggled with high staff turnover...

  8. Part III Resilience in action

    • 6 The case for green infrastructure
      (pp. 87-100)
      Neil C. Hawkins and Glenn Prickett

      Green infrastructure (GI) was investigated as part of a joint-industry programme that aimed to find ways to increase business resilience to external economic and environmental stressors. For the purposes of this study, GI solutions are defined as planned and managed natural and semi-natural systems that can provide more categories of benefits, when compared to traditionalgrayinfrastructure. Experts from the Dow Chemical Company, Shell, Swiss Re and Unilever, working with The Nature Conservancy and a resilience expert,³ evaluated a number of business case studies, and developed recommendations that green and hybrid infrastructure solutions should become part of the standard toolkit...

    • 7 Nexus! Resilience in a pressure cooker
      (pp. 101-110)
      Herman van der Meyden

      Nexus! is a board game simulation of an economy that faces energy, water and food stresses. The Resilience Action Initiative developed Nexus! to create an environment for experiential learning. The game energises participants ahead of discussions and allows an easy on-ramp to the somewhat abstract concept of resilience. It is a fun and interactive way to start engagements on the energy, water and food challenge for groups that are new to the topic. For experienced decision-makers, it provides good anchor points for reflection on cooperative behaviours. In a two-hour workshop, participants get to experience tough choices from the interconnections between...

    • 8 Getting to resilience from the bottom-up
      (pp. 111-122)
      Thekla Teunis

      Corporations as centrally governed structures themselves, have a tendency to view the world as being composed of large chunks. These chunks are in turn governed by authorities who establish policies and fund projects. When reflecting on resilience, the natural tendency is to focus on large projects that would enable a particular city or region to cope better with the stresses it may be exposed to. To complement this reflex towards top-down change, a project was initiated to explore how bottom-up projects might contribute as well. Young professionals from the Resilience Action Initiative (RAI) companies were invited to design and implement...

    • 9 Corporations and Resilience
      (pp. 123-130)
      Simone Arizzi, Maximilian Egger, Dawn Rittenhouse and Peter Williams

      The Resilience Action Initiative (RAI) described in this book is not only unique for the resilience approach it took to address pervasive stresses at the water-energy-food nexus, but also for the broad and diverse set of competencies, capabilities and cultures the different participating companies brought to bear on the issue. In this chapter we take a look at the RAI experience over the past two years as a global collaborative effort among private sector partners, attempting to derive some broader lessons from the experience. We hope that what we learned in this period – among private sector companies only –...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 131-136)
    Brian Walker

    The Resilience Action Initiative is an example from the corporate world of developing an adaptive approach to a difficult complex systems problem. It does not adopt a fixed policy approach; it assumes that learning by doing is necessary and that policies and management must change. It is therefore very much in line with resilience thinking and – for those involved in developing resilience ideas and theory – it is a very welcome initiative. What kinds of things does a ‘resilience approach’ call for? The best way to answer this is with an example, and so I’ll start by using one...

    (pp. 137-174)
  11. Author biographies
    (pp. 175-180)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 181-186)
  13. Index
    (pp. 187-188)