September 5, 2023

“Bouncing Forward: Operational Resilience Insights Inspired by the Hawaii Wildfires.”

Introduction The Hawaiian island of Maui experienced terrible Wildfires in August 2023 that left behind enormous amounts of devastation. Hawaiian Electric, the state's largest power comp...

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The Hawaiian island of Maui experienced terrible Wildfires in August 2023 that left behind enormous amounts of devastation. Hawaiian Electric, the state’s largest power company, is being blamed for the fire. Even though we still do not know for sure what caused it. They claim that the business did not take adequate precautions against the strong winds that exacerbated the wildfires.

However, there was more than one cause of this fire. A number of issues led to it, including hot weather, strong winds, a protracted drought, and even a sizable hurricane named Dora. Though not all experts concur, some believe the hurricane made the winds worse. When all of these factors are considered, even a small wildfire has the potential to grow into a large, swiftly spreading catastrophe, especially when temperatures reach 90°F.

Another thing that made the fire worse was the type of grass on the island. Some of the grasses that were once imported to the island for farming and decoration became hazardous because they caught fire easily.

What can we, therefore, take away from all of this?

Being prepared can make a significant difference when nature spirals out of control, as this lesson demonstrates.

In the case of the wildfires caused by active power lines during adverse weather conditions, an operational resilience strategy By closely monitoring external factors like weather forecasts and wind speeds, an organization could have proactively identified the heightened risk and initiated the shutdown of vulnerable power lines. This swift action could have thwarted the potential ignition of the fire, demonstrating how operational resilience acts as a proactive shield against unpredictable events.


Moreover, operational resilience encompasses comprehensive planning, robust communication protocols, and scenario-based training. These elements empower organizations to navigate emergencies seamlessly, make decisions in real time, and execute pre-established protocols effectively. For instance, in this scenario, an operational resilience approach would include regular drills that simulate adverse conditions, ensuring that teams are well-prepared to respond swiftly and decisively in critical situations.

In the ever-changing landscape of risks and challenges, operational resilience serves as a dynamic strategy that not only safeguards against financial losses but also prevents tragedies. The Hawaiian Electric incident underscores the urgency for businesses to adopt operational resilience as a strategic imperative, solidifying their commitment to safety, responsible practices, and the well-being of the communities they serve.

Understanding What Operational Resilience is 

Operational resilience is the capacity of an organization to foresee, adapt to, respond to, and recover from disruptive occurrences. These occurrences could include economic downturns, supply chain disruptions, cyberattacks, natural disasters like wildfires, and more.

Maintaining essential operations and services in the face of difficulty is a fundamental tenet of operational resilience.

Key Elements of Operational Resilience 

1) Risk assessment

The first step in constructing operational resilience is identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities. To understand their vulnerabilities and the possible effects of different disruptions, organizations must do thorough risk assessments. This information serves as the basis for creating effective backup plans.

2) Planning for Business Continuity

A well-designed business continuity plan not only describes steps to take both during and after a crisis but also ensures the maintenance of vital activities. In the given case, the wildfires entail putting in place backup facilities, communication and decision-making mechanisms, and alternate facilities.

3) Adaptive Capacity

Organizations that are resilient are able to change with the times. This necessitates a culture of adaptability, open dialogue, and a readiness to accept innovation when confronted with unforeseen difficulties.

4) Diversification of the Supply chain

When interruptions happen, over-dependence on a single provider or region can be disastrous. Diversifying the supply chain is a key component of operational resilience since it guarantees that there are alternate sources available to lessen any disruptions.

5) Communication and Stakeholder Engagement

It’s critical to maintain open and regular lines of contact with everyone who matters, including clients, partners, and the general public. Clear communication and timely updates support managing expectations and preserving confidence.

The Power of Operational Resilience  

Operational resilience is a proactive strategy that involves anticipating and reducing possible risks before they materialize into crises. It is not merely a trendy term. The event involving Hawaiian Electric eloquently illustrates how a carefully designed operational resilience plan may have made a significant difference.
This technique entails a thorough understanding of the complex interactions between internal processes and external factors like weather, potential risks, and even human behavior; instead of merely relying on readiness. 

How can you build Operational resilience?

1) Leadership Commitment

Commitment from the top down is necessary for operational resilience. To ensure efficient planning and execution, leaders must allocate resources and give resilience-building activities top priority.

2) Training and Scenario Testing 

Organizations might find gaps and vulnerabilities in their strategies by routinely simulating various crisis situations. Their operational resilience plans may then be continuously improved.

3) Taking Lessons from Failure

It’s crucial to perform a detailed post-incident analysis after every crisis to determine what went wrong and what succeeded. These revelations influence future plans. Furthermore, they also strengthen the organization’s general resilience.


It is a call to action for companies to adopt operational resilience as a dynamic strategy and go beyond reactive measures. By doing this, organizations can better anticipate, respond to, and minimize risks, assuring their own continuity and the safety of the communities in which they operate. Building a resilient foundation for a safer and more prosperous future is the goal of operational resilience.

AutoResilience, organizations may cut expenses, improve their overall risk posture, and streamline their GRC, ESG, and resilience management procedures. This gives your company a good chance of surviving with quicker deployment, an early alarm mechanism, and auto-identification of the action plan!