Leadership in Disruptive Times: a Strategic Approach to Building and Strengthening Organizational Resilience

Cranfield School of Management

What are the topics?

Cranfield School of Management


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Who should attend

Anyone who has an interest in organisational resilience or is leading change and helping their organisation back to growth, to become sustainable and become ‘future ready’. This could include:

  • Senior executives and general managers responsible for setting and implementing the strategic direction of their organisation.
  • Directors and those in senior leadership positions responsible for organisational change and responding to new challenges and opportunities as they emerge.
  • Directors and those in senior leadership positions responsible for risk, resilience, business continuity, or crisis management who wish to take their thinking on resilience to a more strategic level.

About the course

How might you help your organisation prepare and adapt to challenges and disruptions to survive, prosper and be future ready?

Effective leadership and organisational resilience in this new era of uncertainty and disruption are very different. We face a new era of radical uncertainty and disruption brought about by slow-moving challenges, such as climate change, meeting the needs of an ageing society and tackling poverty and respond to shocks including pandemic, extreme weather, and terrorism. Resilience is not only about bouncing back, but also thriving when faced with adversity. How might you help your organisations to be agile, leverage opportunities and drive innovation in order to remain competitive, and even sustainable, in the face of challenging conditions?

Over the last 20 years we have been working with policymakers, executives and those in leadership roles to implement a strategic approach to enhancing organisational resilience.

We realised that there were key challenges that many of our clients’ experience:

  • They worry about potential disruptions and seek assurance that they aren’t sleepwalking into an unexpected disaster. Some had suffered a recent incident which has revealed blind spots, gaps, and weaknesses but they didn’t know how address them effectively.
  • They often feel like a lone voice in trying to promote resilience. Many are concerned that people’s appreciation and understanding of risk and resilience varies enormously across levels, functions or departments.
  • They want to break risk thinking out of the risk box and consider resilience as an enabler of strategy and change. Some struggle to convince their colleagues and the board to invest in resilience when failure seemed so improbable.
  • They have implemented successfully the technical aspects of resilience (plans, protocols, and procedures) but have struggled to make the necessary behavioural and culture change. Most worry that they are treating cultural change as a values exercise, rather than getting to the heart of what work we need to be doing and how we can do it better.
  • They struggle to be agile and to drive innovation to remain competitive in the face of challenging conditions. Several feel the need to accelerate change to get future-ready at a time when many around them are using the calm between events to take a breath rather than prepare ahead.
  • They are not sure how to develop leadership capability across the organisation for uncertain and unpredictable times.

We have designed a number of interventions to help address these issues. Built on Cranfield’s latest research and thought leadership, this programme provides you with the confidence and the steps to initiate the changes you need to introduce to lead your organisation through disruptive times. It will give you a framework, a language, a methodology, and tools to help you take the organisation from its current culture and practices to those that will create a more resilient organisation.

Lifelong access to Alumni Membership benefits is included in the price of this course.

What you will learn

  • How to build a mind set whereby people pick up on, report and respond to the early signals of impending issues.
  • How to build commitment to resilience with key influencers at all levels across the organisation, rather than it being the responsibility of an individual or specialist department.
  • How to use the Cranfield resilience framework to make strategic choices about resilience and to provide a clear direction of travel.
  • How to understand and use the Cranfield resilience framework to clarify the assumptions, culture, processes and practices that need to be in place to move to the desirable future state.
  • How to embrace paradox and balance the need for risk management and compliance with the need to be able create the conditions for creativity, innovation and adaptation.
  • How to recognise the leadership approach that is needed for uncertain and unpredictable times

Timetable - Live online

Day 1

Session 1

What organisational resilience is and why we need a new perspective to ensure organisations thrive in disruptive times.

Identifying and framing disruptive challenges.

How leadership enables organisational resilience. The leadership mind set shifts that are required to develop resilience in an organisation.

Session 2

Exploring your organisation’s current organisational resilience footprint by taking the Strategic Tensions Assessment Tool.

Reviewing your organisation’s current and future resilience footprint in the light of your organisational context and the challenges you face.

Day 2

Session 3

A call to action – how to raise the concern and engage colleagues in the agenda for more effective organisational resilience.

Identifying who to engage in the change process and how to build commitment.

Session 4

How to support people as you change the culture of the organisation.

Building an agenda for change. Identifying what it means for your own leadership practice.

One to one conversations (pre-bookable)

With Cranfield faculty on post programme work in your organisation.

With BSI on the BSI Organisational Resilience Index.

Benefits for your organization

We see participants on this programme learning on behalf of their organisations with a view to engaging colleagues in an agenda for organisation resilience. Participants will undoubtedly gain personal insight and knowledge from the programme. However, as organisational resilience requires collective action, we wish to attract participants who will be willing to share the content with colleagues after the programme.

Post-programme engagement with Cranfield

This programme is designed to introduce you to the leading edge work we are doing at Cranfield on leading in disruptive times. We anticipate participating organisations will wish to move to next steps following this introductory programme. We are able to support our clients with a range of customised work packages. We work with you to design a solution for your needs but typically include:

  • In depth work with your senior leadership team (can be offered as a strategic senior management team retreat).
  • Developing senior management team understanding of leading for organisation resilience.
  • Using our Strategic Tensions Assessment Tool with a wider range of selected staff so that the senior team can develop a picture across the organisation and within the senior team as to how staff perceive current and future resilience footprints.
  • Introducing a tool kit of practical approaches to diagnosing next steps and initiating these.
  • Progress review virtual workshop to help overcome any initial blockers around six weeks after retreat.
  • Tailored versions of this introductory programme.
  • Some clients want a widespread commitment to organisational resilience and find that running this programme, or a variant of it, in house can support the organisation resilience strategy.


Kim Turnbull James

Kim is a Chartered Psychologist, with a BSc(Hons) in Psychology from University College, London and a PhD from the University of Aston, Birmingham. She is a member of the Higher Education Academy. Kim's career began with Dunlop, who also sponsored her PhD research. Kim has worked with a wide r...

David Denyer

Background David worked for the management consulting group of Mouchel before joining Cranfield in 2002. Current activities David is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change and Director of Research at Cranfield School of Management. He has published a large number of important and highl...

Elmar Kutsch

Background “To be uncertain is uncomfortable, but to be certain is ridiculous.” (Chinese Proverb) Being uncomfortable is both a challenge and an opportunity for Elmar. As a passionate Skydiver his interests, both privately and professionally, revolve around management of the unexpected. Elmar's ...

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Leadership in Disruptive Times: a Strategic Approach to Building and Strengthening Organizational Resilience at Cranfield School of Management

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

Read more about Leadership

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