HHR Africa 2016: How to boost organisational resilience

The theme of this year's HHR Africa, which took place on 22 and 23 November 2016, was organisational resilience. This is defined by the British Standard BS65000 (2014) as the ability of an organisation to anticipate, prepare for, and respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper. 

Our keynote speaker, Henrietta Blyth, Interhealth Worldwide, set the tone for the two-day conference by outlining what organisational resilience meant to her. She introduced the participants to the LIVE principles, which are required to enhance organisational resilience.

  • L – Leadership
  • I – Investment, infrastructure, and innovation
  • V – Values and vulnerability
  • E – Efficacy

In brief, the LIVE principles focus on various aspects of empowering people to make positive changes.

Following Henrietta’s passionate introduction to the topic of organisational resilience, the room was filled with a buzz of positive energy and curiosity and the participants were keen to move on to the panel discussion and Q&A on risk aspects of organisational resilience.

The panel consisted of four experts including Henrietta Blyth, Jacqueline Ingutiah, Advocates 4 International Development Kenya (A4ID), Luiz Camargo, Somalia NGO Consortium and ADRA Somalia, and Sheila Masinde, Transparency International Kenya.

Jacqueline Ingutiah discussed legal risks to organisational resilience. She concluded that organisations should be proactive rather than reactive to mitigate and avoid legal risks and highlighted that A4ID can support organisations in this by offering online legal health checks and pro-bono legal advice on a national or international scale.

Luiz Camargo used Somalia NGO Consortium as a case study to indicate how Somalia-based NGOs have become increasingly resilient to financial risks, and specifically to the access and insecurity of funds. The ever-changing volatile circumstances in Somalia prompted organisations to adapt and coordinate international aid to better provide to those in need.

Finally, Sheila Masinde introduced us to the humanitarian aid integrity programme called CREATE, on which Transparency International Kenya is working both at a national and global level.  The research aims to generate evidence on corruption risks and generate solutions in complex humanitarian contexts.

Following the panelists’ presentations, there was a Q&A session using Slido, an interactive tool that allowed participants to post questions, vote in polls, and access conference presentations and materials.

Following a networking lunch break, the afternoon resumed with an introductory session on the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) and how it can support organisations in becoming more resilient to changes and risks. Once all participants had familiarised themselves and come to grips with the CHS, Erin Lloyd, a councellor at Interhealth East Africa introduced a session on the importance of peer support in the workplace in order to improve staff wellbeing and create a more resilient workforce.

The first day was concluded by a reflective session on key learning of the day and left participants feeling inspired and excited for day two. When participants arrived on the second day, many were surprised to see that half the tables in the room had been removed. This was to facilitate an interactive ‘market place’ session wherein four groups of participants rotated between short dynamic sessions on principles of organisational resilience, including leadership, people, and culture and diversity, as well as systems and settings. The groups then discussed and proposed four ‘tips’ on how to implement each of the respective principles. The suggestions were collated and at the end of the day were put to a vote on a Slido poll.

Mariana Merelo Lobo, ACF International, conducted a skills session on enhancing one’s awareness to increase resilience.

As the second day drew to an end, Maxine Clayton, CHS Alliance, and Faye Ekong, ACF USA, pulled everything together and allowed participants to provide us with an insight of what they had learned and how they would put their gained knowledge and skills to use in their organisations. HHR Africa was a fantastic opportunity to bring together top HR professionals working in the region, and to share ideas, identify issues and needs, and think of solutions in relation to building organisational resilience in the humanitarian sector.

Speaker presentations included:

Pictures of the event can be found here.

Please find below a few additional useful resources related to organisational resilience: