Business leaders overestimate preparedness for disruption

PwC Global Crisis and Resilience Survey

PwC’s bi-annual Global Crisis and Resilience Survey reveals organisations and business leaders overestimate their resilience despite operating in an age of disruption.

Data from 1,812 respondents worldwide provides insights into how business leaders are preparing for – and responding to – this new world. When asked where resilience falls on the list of corporate priorities, nine in ten (89%) respondents said resilience is one of their most important strategic organisational priorities – indicating organisations are creating a resilience revolution.

After a tumultuous start to the decade, it is unsurprising that nine out of ten (91%) organisations report that they have experienced at least one disruption other than the Covid-19 pandemic. On average, organisations experienced three-and-half disruptions in the last two years. Three-quarters (76%) said their most serious disruption had a medium-to-high impact on operations – disrupting critical business processes and services and causing downstream financial and reputational issues.

The top five reported disruptions include: the global Covid-19 pandemic, employee retention and recruitment, supply chain, technology disruption or failure, and cyber attack. Excluding the pandemic, supply chain disruptions had the greatest impact on organisations – monetary or otherwise – and they have doubled since 2019, according to the report. More than half (60%) of organisations whose most serious disruption was supply chain related, were most concerned about experiencing a similar disruption again.

David Stainback, Co-leader of PwC’s Global Centre for Crisis and Resilience, PwC US, said:

“Business leaders face an unprecedented level of disruption and uncertainty in today’s rapidly changing environment. Organisations are contending with external macro forces and internal business transformations, and it is against this backdrop that resilience has become one of the most vital strategic priorities in the corporate world.”

While 70% of business leaders express confidence in their ability to recover from various disruptions, the survey data shows that many organisations lack the foundational elements of resilience they need to be successful. This confidence gap puts organisations at risk of being exposed – particularly when the disruption spotlight is solely on them – as opposed to broader global or sector challenges.

The survey data revealed three significant trends driving, what PwC has called, a resilience revolution:

  • Integration: An integrated resilience programme is essential for today’s organisations. It is no longer sufficient for organisations to work in silos as they address today’s complex and interconnected risks. Businesses are actively moving to an integrated approach to resilience, centrally governing and aligning multiple resilience capabilities around protecting what matters most and embedding the programme into operations and the corporate culture.
  • Leadership: Thriving in permacrisis requires an executive leader and upskilled teams. A successful resilience strategy and programme needs: (1) executive sponsorship from the C-suite, (2) a programme leader with clear responsibility, and (3) a skilled team to do the day-to-day work.
  • Programme approach: Building operational resilience around what matters most. Organisations must build operational resilience (OpRes) and ensure that enterprise planning and preparation are part of a broader continuous cycle. As more businesses integrate their resilience programmes, many are adopting the core principles of an OpRes approach, focusing on protecting what matters most and prioritising investment based on what’s critical to their organisation and stakeholders. This allows organisations to manage risks with high reliability and to drive efficiency.

Those who have moved to an integrated resilience programme are significantly further ahead in many of the core elements of OpRes, including risk and threat assessment processes, exercising and testing, and service and process dependency mapping, enabling companies to build a robust corporate immune system where an organisation can adapt, flex, and move forward stronger.

Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles, Co-leader of PwC’s Global Centre for Crisis and Resilience, PwC UK, said:

“The ability to adapt and respond to disruption is vital to maintaining trust built with stakeholders and protecting shareholder value and reputation – all at a time when the expectations for resilience of businesses and government have never been higher. To build a trusted and agile organisation, it is vital that business leaders invest in resilience across functions and people, and focus on an integrated approach, supported by technology to enable a panoramic view of their risk and resilience landscape.”

To learn more about the latest findings, download the full PwC Global Crisis and Resilience Survey 2023 at

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