Organisational resilience is traditionally used as a tool to reduce the impact of unexpected events on an organisation. However, a well-prepared and resilient organisation can leverage its resilience to increase its business when other companies in the same field fail.
Heathrow airport suffered disruption recently from the impact of snow and ice conditions. This is not a new phenomenon. In December 2010 for instance, the airport cancelled hundreds of flights over a 5 day period, possibly as a result of cutting its budget for snow and ice preparation from £1.5M in 2009 to £0.5M in 2010. In the same period, Gatwick Airport reviewed its plans following snow disruption the previous winter and invested £8M to increase the size of its snow fleet.
A major issue for Heathrow is that it is operating at close to maximum theoretical capacity, meaning that any significant disruption can potentially lead to significant backlogs. Even with the £32M committed in 2011 to counter snow and ice conditions, there is significant potential for disruption. Thus in February 2012, snow conditions forced the pre-emptive cancellation of between a third and a half of its flights, resulting in disruption to over 18,00 passengers. Over the same period, Gatwick airport cancelled only 9 flights and did not experience significant delays. On 18 January 2013, a heavy fall of snow again caused disruption at Heathrow with 440 flights cancelled.
Gatwick airport, which was better prepared and had greater resilience to meet the snow and ice conditions, suffered far less disruption. Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive of Gatwick, was able to build on Gatwick’s resilience to suggest publicly that 20% of Heathrow’s flights during winter months should be moved to Gatwick or Stansted.
The message is that being better prepared to respond effectively to a crisis not only ensures your company’s survival but can also act as a springboard to exploit opportunities arising from other companies responding poorly.
**The views, information, words, concepts or opinions expressed in our blogs, articles and blog articles are solely the opinions of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of nStratagem, its employees or its affiliated companies.
Jon Gunns is an associate of nStratagem. We have a great deal of experience in helping leaders and organizations through their development and challenges and can assist in developing your company’s doctrine. Contact us for a discreet discussion.
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