Resilience that is out of this world | Unit4
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Resilience that is out of this world

from  May 4, 2023 | 2 min read

One of the topics we are seeing business leaders laser in on right now and one which I, too, am exploring in detail is that of organizational resilience. BCG offers a simple definition: "Resilience is a company’s capacity to absorb stress, recover critical functionality, and thrive in altered circumstances."

But how does this manifest itself in the everyday business world?

A fantastic recent example, in my view, which perfectly encapsulates organizational resilience, is SpaceX's Starship rocket launch last week....and here’s why.

As the rocket – the most powerful ever built - soared into the sky for its inaugural test flight, the teams behind it gathered in anticipation before witnessing its explosion just four minutes into its journey. Of course many were critical, citing this as a vanity project for Elon Musk and criticizing the environmental impact, as well as the ‘waste’ of billions of dollars.

Yet, back at SpaceX HQ, the officials, and teams behind the project cheered at the incredible feat of actually achieving a clean launch for the fully integrated Starship and booster rocket. It was declared a successful test flight by all involved, and there were jubilant scenes pictured back at mission control - shortly after the rocket headed towards its demise in the Pacific. Cheering at failure? Yes! And that is organizational resilience playing out before us.

Even before the launch, many experts stated that the flight wasn’t expected to run seamlessly yet, whilst the $3billion Spaceship only made it four miles towards the outer cosmos and its debut was cut short, the exercise still offers SpaceX valuable data.

This is a clear demonstration of resilience, and a ‘fail fast’ mentality – testing, learning from mistakes, analyzing the data, and readying teams to start again.

Although the ‘rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation’ was a relative disappointment to all involved, it provided learnings and has been cited as the latest illustration of a ‘successful failure’ business formula that serves Elon Musk's company well. I think the quote from BBC science correspondent, Jonathan Amos, sums it up:

“Testing early and testing often, and sometimes breaking things has been very successful for them. You know, their Falcon 9 rocket now is the dominant rocket out there, and nobody comes clear to them. It launches every four days, it puts up 80 percent of all satellites."

Controversial as it may be, surely this is organizational resilience at its best. No one else comes close.

Mike Ettling - Chief Executive Officer at Unit4

Mike Ettling

Unit4 Chief Executive Officer

I’m a CEO, Investor, builder of world class teams, champion of diversity and continuous learner, and I’m passionate about people. From my first leadership role in the Boy Scouts, to exec positions in the tech industry, my career has revolved around elevating, engaging and enabling people. I joined Unit4 to get the market as excited in our unique approach to enterprise tech as I am. We’re building systems that change how people experience work, and the impact will be huge.

Outside of work I’m a family man, a Liverpool supporter, and a proud South African.