Thomas Cook and organisational resilience


This week holiday firm Thomas Cook collapsed, leaving 600,000 people stranded around the globe, 150,000 of them Britons., it also means 21,000 people are suddenly out of work. Why has the world’s oldest travel agent fallen to earth?

It has been clear for some time that the travel agency proposition has lost relevance, having been challenged by disruptive technologies. Nowadays, we all know that consumers can secure the best deal by booking everything separately, rendering the package holiday less attractive.

For a travel agent, or any business, to thrive in this challenging environment, it needs organisational resilience.

Resilient companies weather unexpected challenges, while adapting proactively to the changes that can be predicted.

How can organisations build resilience?

In our view, organisational resilience is not just about ‘belt and braces’ risk management that can stifle creativity, innovation and growth. It’s about creating an environment where every single employee is alert to potential threats and has the power to do something about them. This creates the stable foundation on which sustainable high performance can be built.

Creating such an environment requires an organisational culture that promotes psychological safety, teamwork and personal resilience, but it also takes guidance from business leaders.

These leaders can boost their organisation’s resilience by pursuing these behaviours:

Resilient Strategy

  • Anticipating - Understanding and being open to what the future may hold
  • Prioritising - Understanding what really leads to success and focusing resources accordingly

Resilient Operations

  • Optimising - Making sure that everything within the organisation, including systems, processes, procedures and people are fit for purpose
  • Empowering - Allowing those with the most expertise to make the decisions regardless of power-struggles or hierarchy
  • Coordinating - Creating networks and collaborating both within and outside of the organisation

Resilient thinking

  • Noticing - Picking up on the small errors and anomalies that often get ignored or accepted
  • Sense-making - Looking beyond the obvious or self-serving explanations to explore alternative perspectives and solutions
  • Learning - Reviewing and adapting in order to learn from good and bad performance


Want to know more about making your organisation resilient? Read our white paper. Alternatively, get in touch at

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