An Organizational Resilience Glossary

The overall practice of organizational resilience can be overwhelming with terminology. We hope this listing helps you find the exact definition you need.

I’m a huge lover of words. I can’t even begin my day until I’ve done both Wordle and Quordle and, depending on the day, Spelling Bee and Letterbox. Like any profession, the words we use to describe what we do can be murky to people who are not resilience practitioners. We offer this resilience glossary as a tool for fellow practitioners who need to define terms. We do update this list so check back often!

Why Have a Resilience Glossary?

Establishing a clear understanding of the definitions associated with various practice areas under the organizational resilience umbrella is a key aspect of program development. When Risk Resiliency builds programs for clients we work with them to define these terms in a way that matches their existing program and their company culture. 

Key Resilience Terminology

  • Business Disruption: A business disruption may or may not be a part of a crisis or it may occur independently. An incident expected to cause outage of a site for more than four hours is considered a business disruption. However, in some areas of the company, a disruption of more than an hour has significant ramifications and may be escalated immediately.
  • Business Continuity: An ongoing process to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to identify the impact of potential losses and maintain viable recovery strategies, recovery plans, and continuity of services.
  • Crisis: An event, or series of escalating events or issues, that threatens severe negative impact to people, operations, financial results, brand/reputation, or relations with employees, contingent workers, third parties/suppliers, and other key stakeholders. In short, a crisis is defined as any situation that threatens the viability of the company. Crises may be managed by teams at multiple levels across the organization.
  • Crisis Communications: Activities focused on capturing, verifying and document information about a crisis, and then creating a clear “core message” to use as the basis of all external and internal communications. Also involves managing the media aspects of a crisis, including selecting and preparing spokespersons, creating media briefings, press releases, standby statements, monitoring news coverage and arranging news conferences. Can include employee or customer communications or could only include providing the content for these other audiences to those responsible for the actual communication processes.
  • Crisis Communications Incident: A Crisis Communications incident is defined as any incident that has the potential to bring significant negative attention to the company, but which does not meet the thresholds set for a Corporate Crisis or a Corporate Incident. 
  • Crisis Management: A proactive operating capability to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from an event, series of events, or circumstances that threaten to severely impact people, financial results, reputation, or brand; or relations with employees, contingent workers, customers, or suppliers.
  • Disaster Recovery/ITDR: The technical aspect of business continuity. The collection of resources and activities to re-establish information technology services (including components such as infrastructure, telecommunications, systems, applications, and data) at an alternate site following a disruption of IT services. Disaster recovery includes subsequent resumption and restoration of those operations at a more permanent site.
  • Emergency: An emergency is defined as any situation that threatens the lives of anyone at a  site or traveling while on company business. 
  • Emergency Planning and Management: Measures taken to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the acute or immediate effects of an emergency on human life, health, property, or the environment.
  • Emergency Response: Activities at emergency scenes, e.g., fires, floods, explosions, shootings, earthquakes, or chemical releases, pertaining to life safety and stabilization of the situation. Activities include firefighting, search and rescue, emergency medical procedure, transporting injured people, law enforcement, traffic management, hazardous materials responses, and evacuation control.
  • Exercise: Any scenario-based activity that is used to assess, practice, or improve performance. Exercises are used to train personnel, practice improvisation, enhance communication and coordination, identify resource gaps and performance improvement opportunities, and to validate policies, plans, procedures, and agreements.
  • Exercise, Full-Scale: A scenario-based exercise that involves multiple teams or levels of the crisis management/resiliency structure and provides for comprehensive validation of crisis management/resiliency capabilities. Participants demonstrate individual, team, and organizational capabilities and test the linkages between the various response levels. A full-scale exercise involves non-simulated interaction between various functional groups within the organization and simulated interaction with outside stakeholders (e.g., the public, the media, regulators, etc.). A simulation cell is established to play non-participating groups. A full-scale exercise takes place at a “real time” pace and may be announced or unannounced.
  • Exercise, Functional Drill: A scenario-based exercise that mobilizes personnel on an announced or unannounced basis to validate existing response plans and procedures. These typically involve  teams within a specific function or level. Participants demonstrate the actual actions they would take in a real event within a controlled environment but at a “real time” pace. A functional drill may involve simulated interactions with other internal teams and external stakeholders.
  • Exercise, Tabletop (TTX): A discussion-based exercise utilizing a scenario in a conference room setting. A tabletop exercise is designed to validate specific plans and protocols or to define or refine policies and procedures. Tabletops are typically short in duration and do not include any mobilization of teams or personnel, nor are they conducted at a “real time” pace.
  • Governance: Ensuring that policies and strategy are actually implemented and that required processes are correctly followed. Governance includes defining roles and responsibilities, measuring and reporting, and taking actions to resolve any issues identified.
  • Heightened Monitoring: Focuses on potentially disruptive situation(s) that could trigger an event over time or under certain circumstances. 
  • Holding Statement: Pre-written statement crafted as an initial message used when an incident/crisis occurs. The holding statement is scenario-based and does not contain exhaustive specifics about the incident. The holding statement is supplanted by more detailed information as the incident unfolds. The audience is typically internal, but holding statements for media and external audiences are also crafted by PR and the Comms team.
  • Incident/situation/event: An incident is defined as an emergency or disruption to the business that requires immediate action to protect life safety and/or the business but does not threaten the viability of the organization. Any incident has the potential to escalate into a crisis but can be managed either at the local level through typical management chain.
  • Impact: The effect, acceptable or unacceptable, of an event on an organization. The types of business impact are usually described as financial and non-financial and are further divided into specific types of impact.
  • IT Disaster Recovery: Activities related to resolving IT-based service denials or equipment destruction, but limited to restoration of hardware, operating systems, applications, data, connectivity, and communications. The DR program includes management of manual procedures and subsequent processing of manually collected data, and is based on Recovery Time/Point Objectives (RTO/RPO) developed in conjunction with business units, as defined in a business impact analysis (BIA). DR plans may include third party hot-sites or internal alternate operations centers.
  • Organizational Resilience: The ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions.
  • Organizational Resilience Program: The overall program that acts as an umbrella to contain practices such as crisis management, business continuity, emergency management, physical security, etc. See Our Approach for how Risk Resiliency views program design. 
  • RACI: A structured approach to leadership and decision-making during an incident.
    R = Responsible: Those with direct responsibility for taking action to manage an incident. Typically, site-based functional/department teams for an incident at a site. 
    A = Accountable: Those who are accountable for actions being taken.
    C = Consulted: Those who are conferred with by the teams responsible and taking action.
    I = Informed: Those who are informed of the incident and monitor the outcomes.
  • Recovery: Activities and programs designed to return conditions to a level that is acceptable to the entity.
  • Threat Levels: Threat levels allow teams to identify and triage an incident, apply the correct actions, and notify the applicable teams.
    Level 0 Catastrophic: Mass casualty event, total facility loss
    Level 1 Major:Life safety/ business line risk
    Level 2 Significant: Mitigation needed/escalation potential
    Level 3 Moderate: Resolved via increased focus
    Level 4 Proactive: Proactive preparation for a known event
  • Tiers: Resiliency-defined groupings for program management. Tiers indicate the types of plans and program components a site receives, and the type and cadence of exercises.

If you’d like a document-based version of this list, please reach out to us.