Resilience: overcome adversities and come out stronger

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After the attacks of 9/11 in 2001, and in an outburst to immediately level its economy, the US took radical measures such as deregulating markets, reducing taxes and interest rates and expanding credit, coupled with the millionaire expenses that wars generated from Afghanistan and Iraq; generating an economic crisis that began in 2002 and that detonated in 2008 in the real estate bubble that led to the financial collapse of various entities and that directly or indirectly affected the entire world.

In 2003, and mainly because large Fortune 500 companies were historically reporting results well below their expectations, Gary Hamel, a consultant and professor at Harvard Business School, came up with the idea of taking the concept of resilience, A term commonly applied in Biology to ecosystems and the environment, to incorporate it into modern management techniques, as a tool to foster in the business sector the ability to overcome critical moments and adapt, and then return to normality.

With the banner of “crisis as an opportunity” and with the doctrine that “the speed with which the world becomes turbulent is greater than the speed with which organizations acquire resilience”, the concept of resilience became popular, workshops and seminars, and Gary Hamel’s article “In Search of Resilience” for the Harvard Business Review became the most read of that year (2003) and the top 10 of all time for that publication.

But what added value does this concept rescued in 2003 offer and why is it relevant in our times? The reality is that today, as 17 years ago, we must continue trying to cope with adversity and come out stronger in a vulnerable environment that, although it does not seem clear, we could through certain techniques adopt a sense of determination that allows us to adapt and achieve a better future.

For this reason, in the business field, it becomes relevant to have the necessary tools to face an adverse situation that could endanger the permanence of the business, which I mention below:

First, anticipate, accept and adapt to change, but at the same time stay focused on your own business strategy. The entrepreneur must break paradigms and be flexible to take the change and capitalize on the opportunity that an unfortunate situation offers them.

Second, resilient companies must have the ability to learn quickly and implement all the necessary initiatives that allow them to achieve the necessary objectives to get out of a crisis situation, take advantage of it in their favor and even try to turn it into a strength.

Third and last, leadership and discipline are required on the part of the General Management, which must promote a mentality of openness and development, fostering a culture of necessary adaptation in the most unpredictable situations in all its work team. In turn, the leader must have a sense of determination and a long-term vision, which allows him to migrate from a current situation to a desired situation and find the right balance between risk control and taking advantage of opportunities.

At the end of the day, as entrepreneurs, resilience will allow us to learn from bad experiences, anticipate trends, survive in the long term, and work through all that stress to be prepared and face any type of environment that comes our way. It pays to be prepared.

Eng. Hector Sotomayor, M.A. advisor specialized in investment and advertising projects, as well as a professor at the Tec de Monterrey in the Department of Engineering and Sciences. Email:

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