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.
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, the project succeeded in improving the way the company thought about, articulated and delivered resilience.
3 pillars of the Anglian Water Resilience Framework
7key resilience qualities reviewed
6million + customers are benefiting
Building a resilience strategy for the future
Ofwat 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.’
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 doing this, it has fostered the development of a stronger, clearer strategic direction.
A multifaceted team to deliver resilience
We assembled a multifaceted team to unpick and understand both the business and Ofwat’s report on resilience guidance. Building on the City Resilience Index (CRI), developed by Arup with the Rockefeller Foundation, we co-created a resilience framework to match the demands and characteristics of water companies.
While we gained an understanding of the business, its objectives and its resilience practices, Anglian took time to better understand resilience. Anglian was already doing many great things in terms of its short and long-term risk management; the challenge was that in many cases they were happening in isolation. We encouraged them to change their methods of reporting, planning and communication; bringing in a new mindset, new language, a new way of looking at the future, and a new set of potential disruptors to it. We helped Anglian to look at resilience beyond business continuity and demonstrated resilience to shocks and stresses up to 50 years ahead, in an evidenced, joined-up way.
Resilience is a move from a risk-based approach to one about strengthening systems to cope with uncertainty, and had the potential to connect different parts of the business. Together, we built out the framework, and momentum grew as we co-published the framework in January 2018.
The forefront of resilience thinking
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.
Through the creation of the framework, Anglian Water achieved far greater synergy between different parts of the business and a deeper appreciation of how resilience is delivered by a ‘system’ working as one, rather than by individual departments each making their own long-term plans.
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.
The provision of resilient services for our customers and the environment has always been at the heart of the way we operate our business. Working with Arup to produce the Resilience in the Round framework and the independent maturity assessment has enabled Anglian Water to bring the various resilience strategies together in a coherent framework and will form the foundation for our future business strategy and management of risks. ” Peter Simpson CEO, Anglian Water