A year in New Zealand business resilience

Date: 20th December 2011

A year ago our nation was reeling following the Pike River Mine disaster and the first earthquake in Christchurch. One year on Christchurch has suffered another devastating quake with tragic loss of life and major property damage; the Hawke’s Bay has been hit by a huge storm that washed out large areas of productive farm land; across NZ gold kiwifruit crops have been decimated by the Psa virus (with infection confirmed to green crops also). Most recently the Bay of Plenty’s beaches were polluted by oil and debris from the Rena grounded on Astrolabe Reef.

These critical events apart, businesses have to cope with localised crises, such as losing a contract, a major bad debt or a key staff member leaving. How to cope when adversity strikes? Dr Sven Hansen of the Resilience Institute succinctly advises ‘be calm, advance steadily, prevail.’ We expand on this approach.

Be calm, a clear head will deliver decisive, thoughtful action. Mayor Bob Parker’s calm strength in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes is a classic example. When a business crisis hits don’t be afraid to communicate with your staff, customers, suppliers, advisors, and bank manager! The load gets shared and a solution may come from any quarter.

Advance Steadily, focus on the basics and mobilise the resources you need to plan your recovery. Plant and Food Research are doing just that in developing Psa resistant strains of kiwifruit and when oil spilled from the Rena, thousands of volunteers were marshalled in the clean-up.

Look for innovative bounce back solutions to stem the loss. The newly opened Cashel Street ‘pop-up’ Mall has bought retailing back to central Christchurch in a vibrant way.

Prevail, recovery from business crises can be slow and frustrating but a relentless approach will get you there…

Our isolation has made us a resilient nation. When the chips are down we’re generous and supportive towards each other. As 2011 comes to a close, be uplifted by our amazing 2011 Rugby World Cup win (24 years in the making) – when an All Black team troubled by injury, securing scraps of possession and facing an impassioned French Les Bleus, stoically won the final. They remained calm, advanced steadily and prevailed.

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