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November 19, 2020

“Resilience right now”: a conversation with resilience expert Mike Butler

I recently sat down with resilience expert Mike Butler to have a chat with him about the state of resilience right now. It was a great conversation full of insights. You can watch the full recording here.

Financial services has had an increasing focus on operational resilience over the years due to increased complexity and scale, and a requirement to be ‘always on’. Adding COVID-19 into the mix has only created another challenge in keeping businesses of all kinds up and running. 

Mike Butler has been working in high-level resilience roles for many major organizations and we spoke in depth about this problem and the potential solutions. This blog post highlights some of the interesting points that came out of that discussion.


“Lockdown heroes”

First of all, Mike acknowledged that some companies have been able to adapt to the new circumstances under COVID and even thrived: “It’s been fascinating to see some companies flourish and thrive through this lockdown and I don’t think we expected to see that - as we went into lockdown it was all doom and gloom.” Zoom has become one of the heroes of lockdown, and Mike noted that “Video collaboration has become embedded into our lives.” But expanding at such a rate during a time of remote working isn’t easy, and Zoom has had its fair share of problems and even major outages. However, Mike noted that Zoom’s reaction to these issues proves it to be a resilient organization: “Zoom has reacted very quickly in an agile way - they identify the problem, talk about the problem, and fix the problem - and to me, that’s agile resilience. Communicating is a really key part of recovery and resilience.”


Resistance over recovery

When it comes to increasing operational resilience for major organizations such as Financial Services firms, there’s been a move away from focusing on business continuity, which is about recovering from an incident once it’s happened, and towards building resistance to failure. This is a proactive approach where firms aim to have an infrastructure that is resistant enough that if there is some kind of disaster, the service continues. This is also a much more customer-centric approach, with the emphasis on ensuring there is no negative impact on the end customer rather than ticking boxes to fill requirements.


The resilience of reinvention

Resilience is also about reinvention. According to Mike, “when you look at resilience that is the ultimate goal - to reinvent yourself again and again and to be able to do that quickly and in a structured way.” One example of this that Mike gave was a printing company pivoting to manufacturing PPE, which helped it to stay in business while demand for its core product was down and provide something that was sorely needed to combat the pandemic.


Expect the unexpected

Something 2020 has no doubt taught both individuals and firms is to expect the unexpected. It’s impossible to predict everything that could go wrong, but building resilient systems and being able to weather unexpected problems will help businesses to stay afloat now and in the future. Whether it’s established firms utilizing new technology to make their systems more robust or new and growing companies ensuring that they build redundancy into their systems from day one, resilience is going to be higher on everyone’s agenda than ever before. 


Thank you to Mike for an interesting discussion on the state of resilience right now! Watch the full recording here for more resilience insights.



Ky Nichol is the founder and CEO of Cutover. Formerly the Global Head of Government and Major Sporting Events practice at a niche global consulting firm, Ky has 15 years of experience in major launch events and transitions. These experiences span EE, NASA, European Space Agency, Barclays and the London 2012 Olympics.


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