In September 2017, the water industry regulator Ofwat published the report, Resilience in the Round: Building Resilience for the Future. This was a call to encourage water companies to think long-term about potentially disruptive challenges: short-term shocks such as cyber-attacks, flooding or data fraud; and long-term stresses such as climate change, population growth and lifestyle changes. It defined resilience in the context of the water industry as ‘the ability to cope with, and recover from, disruption and anticipate trends and variability in order to maintain services for people and protect the natural environment now and in the future.’ It argued that ‘the nature, awareness of and tolerance to future threats is changing. They demand an integrated and intelligent response. So it is right that resilience should be at the core of how the sector plans to deliver its services to customers.’
In response, Anglian Water collaborated with Arup on a framework for assessing resilience maturity that would be shared with Ofwat and the entire industry. Challenging the approach to long-term risk planning within Anglian, as well as some resistance to change, the project succeeded in improving the way the company thought about, articulated and delivered resilience. By supporting Anglian Water to consider resilience from a whole system perspective, it helped with their transition towards an organisation that is able to respond to shocks and stresses by adapting.
The development of a single framework for resilience has supported a more business-wide approach to planning, adding a greater sense of purpose to previously disparate activities. In so doing this, it has fostered the development of a stronger, clearer strategic direction. The Resilience in the Round Framework offers water companies a robust, proven tool tailored specifically for their needs – one that can provide a true, independent reflection of resilience and benchmark companies against each other, as well as global best practice. Ofwat’s objective of embedding resilience thinking into the industry is bearing fruit, with positive outcomes for customers and the environment from more resilient, more forward-thinking water companies. Following Anglian’s PR19 submission of its maturity assessment and business plan, the company is now working on embedding its new way of thinking across the business, so that all of its activities link back to the Arup approach. The process and the end product have helped make Anglian Water a better business.
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