Resilience as part of your organization’s DNA

An aid worker helps an Indonesian man off a helicopter after being evacuated from a tsunami-stricken village in Sumatra. Photo by: Jordon R. Beesly / U.S. Navy

Development and humanitarian organizations and their staff are facing more challenges than ever before, and being asked to do more for more people than at any time in our history. These challenges and the related stressors can be debilitating. How can these challenges, and the stress they put on individual staff and entire organizations, actually result in improved performance and outcomes for the people we serve?

One word: Resilience.

Resilience is defined as the ability to quickly recover from external stresses or shocks. That’s a good place to start. We define it as the capacity to deal with organizational and environmental stressors in a way that increases the ability and willingness to effectively handle additional and even more intense challenges.

Of course, the ability to handle stress and challenge is not an end in itself. In our sector, the goal of resilience is to develop the capacity to endure and recover from stressors in a healthy way and continue to effectively assist others in whatever conditions we are asked to do so. Resilience is the ever-increasing capacity to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, under the most trying conditions.

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About the author

  • Rickaugsburger

    Rick Augsburger

    Rick is managing director of the KonTerra Group, an organizational effectiveness consulting firm in Washington, D.C., where he directs the firm’s corporate operations, resiliency programs, leadership development, strategic planning, and evaluation. He has more than 25 years experience in international development, focusing on organizational effectiveness, resiliency & staff care, strategic planning, and management & admin, and has traveled extensively working on development programs in 72 countries.