While COVID-19 has shone a harsh light on some organizations, the British military has demonstrated a clear ability to rise to the challenge, be it in creating ‘Nightingale’ hospitals, assisting NHS logistics or setting up testing stations – all with very limited notice. In this extraordinary year, service personnel also helped respond to the February floods while other units were deployed on operations in several countries.
How is an organization that recruits and trains to operate as a fighting force able to pivot and deliver results so rapidly across such a diverse range of tasks? In this paper, we will examine some of the elements that endow the military with the flexibility to respond to events quickly and effectively, and how they could be adapted to apply to a financial services environment. The military approach we outline below is designed to sustainably address challenges and situations, to respond not just immediately but to deliver lasting results.
This involves both gaining and then retaining the initiative over time and not just to address a single event. It is precisely this sustainable approach and adaptability that can make firms more operationally resilient if they can adopt some of the elements that we outline in this paper.
The military approach can be broken down into four components: organization, decision-making, execution and training. This paper analyses the military thinking behind each component and how these could be potentially be adapted to a financial services environment.