The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has completely blindsided society in 2020, with devastating effect. But was this cataclysmic event a black swan? It appears not. According to the National Risk Register – an overview of the risks of major emergencies that could impact the UK in the next five years – the threat of a pandemic was firmly on the government’s radar: “experts agree that there is a high probability of another influenza pandemic occurring, but it is impossible to forecast its exact timing or the precise nature of its impact.” In fact, of all the high consequence risks outlined in the register – from severe weather to terrorist attacks – a pandemic was considered to have the highest potential impact.
This threat wasn’t classified information reserved for senior figures in Whitehall; it had filtered down to local government level. Take Camden Council, for example, which – like other local authorities – already had information about pandemic risk fed to them by Public Health England. Camden subsequently rated a ‘pandemic flu’ as a 4/5 likelihood and 5/5 for potential damage on its risk register – proof that more high-profile risks like terror and cyber-attacks weren’t their only focus when it came to organisational resilience.
Despite receiving a heads up about a pandemic and grading it accordingly, few in the public sector expected it to happen on their watch – or at least not to the extent seen during Covid-19, which escalated at a scale not experienced since Spanish Flu in 1918, when global mobility was limited. The result? Risk registers that acknowledged the possibility of a pandemic, but without a recent precedent to draw upon, failed to provide an adequate framework for organisational resilience.
Public bodies and government agencies find themselves in unchartered territory in the UK and across much of Europe, putting departments under pressure as they try to ensure public needs are met. This response has been radical and exhaustive, pushing their resources to the limit – for example, health services have mobilised at scale. All of which has been compounded by the lack of certainty around when the crisis will end – giving rise to a range of challenges that have tested their organisational resilience:
Leaders across the public sector understandably remain focused on the immediate impact of COVID-19. However, they are increasingly mindful of its longer-term implications – and for some, this precedent could be a turning point for their agency. As the impact of the pandemic reduces over time, government agencies and public bodies will learn lessons that can be used to re-evaluate their organisational resilience strategies. Examples include:
Organisations often ask a common question during their quest to adapt and be resilient during normal business operations and through disruptive events: how can we integrate software that can drive meaningful decision-making from a risk perspective using data that’s aligned to our objectives and KPIs?
The answer could lie in Camms' uncomplicated, affordable, and comprehensive organisational resilience software solution. With integrated solutions in risk, strategy, projects and people, our business software will help you make the right decisions, manage risks, align the talents of your organisation and focus on what matters.
Find out more about how Camms support UK-based Public Bodies and Government Agencies and request a demo call today.
Vice President, EMEA