Last October I posted a bit on a then draft document making the rounds of the Beltway, Colorado Springs, New London and places in-between. I had seen a boot-leg copy of Dane Egli’s Beyond the Storms: Strengthening Security & Resilience in the 21st Century. The work has continued to resonate and influence.
You will soon be able to own your own copy of Beyond the Storms: Strengthening Homeland Security and Disaster Management to Achieve Resilience. Interesting shift in the title. The link will take you to Amazon. What started as a PhD dissertation will soon be published by M.E. Sharpe.
Virtue is derived from the Latin virtu meaning man. Roman virtue was to behave as a true man ought: courageous, generous, thankful, faithful, dutiful, deserving of public praise and honor. To be virtuous was to serve the community and to win its accolades. Restraint was honored, but humility was not a Roman virtue.
The Roman philosopher Seneca argued that virtue is the capacity to take appropriate and correct action that benefits both the actor and others.
The last two days I have been with Dr. Egli (a former USCG Captain) and about fifty others trying to think through how to cultivate this kind of virtue using what Dane and his colleagues are calling the Resilience Implementation Process.
This is, in the main, a three-part process consisting of a Risk Map, a Functional Resilience Framework, and an Action Plan. In my mind it is very similar to John Boyd’s OODA Loop (see below). I really like the OODA Loop so I am similarly inclined to the Resilience Implementation Process. There are also analogies to the Enterprise Risk Management model and a dozen Change Management models and many Strategic Decisionmaking models.
The benefit of all these processes is to make explicit what has been implicit. In creating a Risk Map we are encouraged to observe more carefully. In working through the Functional Resilience Framework we are encouraged to be reality-informed and self-critical in making conscious decisions. Action is a purposeful experiment to test our observations and hypotheses regarding reality and especially cause-and-effect. We are predisposed to learn from our experiences and engage in step-by-step improvement.
Most of the time we are not so mindful. Most of the time we operate by the seat-of-our-pants. Too often we have been left with no seat or lost our pants entirely. (Seneca wrote, “Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgment.”) We need the help of disciplined processes. Certainly I do.
But not just processes. Somehow — especially thanks to systems engineering — processes (from an Old French term for journey) have become rather sterile. Where we once processed over the hills of medieval Burgundy, we now process “Big Data”. We are tempted to believe that with the proper process a specific solution exists for every conceivable problem. There is good hope in this faith, there is also potential hubris.
To harvest resilience cultivating virtue seems a more accurate and meaningful description of the important task before us. In contrast to our precision-aspiring processes, to call resilience a virtue suggests something very human: emerging from relationships, messy, inconsistent, self-subverting and self-sacrificing, often beautiful, too often undone by pride, aspiring to the Good, unveiling profound even contradictory truths.
Editorial Note: It is my practice to avoid posting at HLSWatch on meetings and projects in which I am an active participant. Readers deserve a bit more objectivity. My hosts deserve reasonable discretion. I appreciate Dane Egli’s permission to break with this practice here.