A resilient person, enterprise, or region anticipates failure – even fundamental failure.
This is not necessarily a fatalistic or cynical disposition (though it can be). At best it is a kind of proactive realism, even a healthy paranoia (ala Only the Paranoid Survive).
The resilience paradox involves enhanced influence through less control. The tensions between orthodox and paradox can be very real. (Unpack those two sentences and you have a chapter, if not a book, on the future of homeland security.)
As a strategic priority resilience mitigates hubris and promotes humility. It is one way of recognizing and saying-aloud, “Ultimately I am not in control, but I can be prepared to respond and adapt.”
A science of resilience is coalescing around principles derived from physics, biology, and human behavior. These natural principles are increasingly being tested and amended to be purposefully grafted into social systems.
Last week Arnold Bogis pointed us to the Rockefeller Foundation’s new multimillion dollar effort to build urban resilience. A thoughtful, clearly experienced, and apparently innovative emergency manager responded with at least some annoyance.
A.J. Phelps commented (in part, please see full comment):
I see a lot of potential duplication of effort with a CRO (Chief Resilience Officer) position, as opposed to consolidation of effort. Concepts that I associate with resiliency (like recovery and mitigation) fit squarely on my plate as an emergency manager provided the focus is on the manager side of the title, are addressed through a collaborative planning process with SMEs, and should be included in existing planning programs.
I hope many top emergency managers have already begun bringing together the team that will enable their city, region or whatever to apply to the Rockefeller Foundation. Especially if Mr. Phelps’ critique is correct, emergency managers should be in the vanguard of this effort.
Resilience is a buzzword which is a kind of meme which is a kind of emergence that may or may not find its own resilience. Such beginnings are precisely when the opportunity for influence is most profound. Do you want to kill the resilience movement? This is your best chance. Do you want to refine and nourish the resilience movement? Now is the right time. In either case, this is the moment to reflect on your motivations and take action.
Great foundations — like great teachers, executives, and prophets — invite us to work with them to create new realities. This is what the Rockefeller Foundation is doing with their 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge. They do not presume to have defined resilience as some sort of universal constant. They have observed that “vulnerability in one area shakes the stability of others, rippling across borders and continents.” They are inviting creativity and commitment to ensure “cities are prepared for and can withstand the crises they are certain to face – mitigating local impact and minimizing worldwide reverberations.”
You can learn more and apply at: 100 Resilient Cities