Staying aligned and building resilience in a volatile business environment

building resilience, staying resilient
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With the climb in unemployment and business failure rates refusing to abate, your organization can stay aligned and resilient amidst the volatility.

In December 2020, we have conducted a webinar titled “Building Resilience” featuring leading experts in Data, Analytics, Human Resources. Experts from the USA, Singapore, and Malaysia came together to discuss opportunities that facilitate growth, and how to implement data-driven strategies to build a resilient workforce in a volatile business environment that changes rapidly.

If you missed the session, watch the webinar session facilitated by Daniel Martin, famous Producer-Presenter from Channel News Asia.

Here’s a brief summary of the webinar and case study sessions facilitated by Professor Dennis Campbell from Harvard Business School.

ASEAN recorded a staggering 6.7 percent unemployment rate at the end of 2020 and businesses need to remain aligned and resilient in a volatile, often unforgiving business environment that surfaced during the height of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Industry 4.0 is further disrupting businesses in this part of the world, and many organizations are grappling with the changes it has brought. However, automation resulting from Industry 4.0 will not replace jobs but create more opportunities, say experts.

Reskilling and upskilling are key to build resilience

In a recent interview with Channel News Asia (CNA), Stephen Yee from the Singapore National Employers Federation noted that organizations need to transform themselves faster today and that bosses and their employees need to reskill, upskill, and pursue new business models.

“Covid-19 has shaped a lot of things for workers and business owners. It has resulted in flexible work arrangements, prioritizing increased productivity and performance, and bosses supporting their people. A crisis of this nature has become a wake-up call for every business. They need to ensure that skills and their businesses continue to remain relevant,” Yee added.

Professor Dennis Campbell from the Harvard Business School also weighed in on the current business environment post-Covid-19 in the CNA interview. “Getting through the Covid-19 crisis requires government support and organizations to execute business strategies really well. This period is about innovation and thinking about the future. What do you do as leaders? How do you leverage technology and change your business model?

“We really need to respond to digital innovation and I think we’re seeing an acceleration of that in this period. I think a real key issue in remaining in employment is not just about reskilling, but also adapting business models and innovating.”

Data-driven organization keeps business resilience 

Sharala Axryd, founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Center of Applied Data Science (CADS), pointed out that the pandemic has brought forward five years of the digitization journey. She also noted that one cannot talk about digitization without mentioning a data-driven organization.

“Every employee needs to be data literate. Only then will everyone speak the same language and there will be no silos within the organization. It is not just about putting the infrastructure in place. It has to be driven by the board and C-levels,” she said of today’s organizations.

Yee noted that in Singapore, most small and medium enterprises have a long way to go in becoming data-driven organizations. “One of their challenges is how to make data accessible to all people in the organization, and the other is overcoming cultural resistance within the organization.”

He added that C-suite leaders must understand data literacy and that the sooner organizations rally together the resources and mindsets of their people, the better it gets for them.

Leaders should build data-driven leadership and set up the right culture to progress further

Harvard’s Campbell concurred. In every organization, leaders need to set the strategy and build the right culture. This can be done only after the leaders had figured out the rationale they’re trying to achieve with digitization.

In a related webinar, Campbell noted that there are existing roadmaps that organizations can build on to respond to data and innovation, however, this may be a challenge for very large organizations to emulate due to its entrenched processes and culture.

It requires self-disruption, he said, adding that “it’s not a journey that happens overnight. Some organizations have responded well to the digitization and some haven’t such as Blockbuster, which was eventually disrupted by Netflix,” he pointed out.

Campbell also said things that adapted organizations to their current environment may create inertia in a rapidly changing environment. “Most organizations keep doing what they are doing, but this doesn’t work in a rapidly changing environment. The exploitation of your current business model drives out variation and exploration. This is the problem we want to solve.”

What’s the way to experiment with new business models while keeping the existing business growing?

The solution is for organizations to develop organizational ambidexterity, which is the capability to complete in mature technologies and markets where efficiency, control, and incremental improvement are prized and to also compete in new technologies and markets where flexibility, autonomy, and experimentation are needed. He cited the example of ALPHABET (the holding company of Google), which structurally separated different businesses.

To achieve this ambidexterity, you need to do a couple of things: embrace inconsistency, develop an overarching identity, develop clear guidelines for selection and retention, as a leader hold tension at the top and created targeted integration. Have ‘common fate’ rewards, shared values, and strong group identities,” he advised. Campbell and CADS eventually went on to help transform and accelerate the digitization journey of Asia’s largest telco using this concept.

For more information on how your organization can remain aligned and resilient, contact the Center of Applied Data Science at

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Navigate Through Digital Transformation - MBA in Business Analytics
MBA in Business Analytics
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