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Joe Brewer
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Throwing my two cents in here... John confuses resilience with robustness. A robust system is one that is able to remain essentially the same in form and function as it is disturbed by outside forces. A resilient system is one that is able to dynamically adapt when disrupted in order to "flow with the punches" and still preserve core functionality. This can be seen in the way resilience is used in psychotherapy. A resilient person is one who internalizes changes in their life while maintaining the ability to cope and manage new experiences -- very similar to the concept of thriving -- while an unresilient person is traumatized by the experience, crippled emotionally, and less able to manage the stresses of future events. So John rightly criticizes the use of static models (with inherent preferences for returning to recognizable prior states), but he makes the mistake of treating resilience as if it refers to static models as well. A resilient business will continually innovate in the face of change and be adaptive to new market niches as they arise (or as it participates in their creation). This is not the same as robustness at all. Nassim Nicholas Taleb makes these distinctions in his book about "antifragility" -- a concept he introduces to explore the distinctions between robustness, fragility, and resilience. I have written a review of the book here that elaborates some of these points: What Happens When We Shock A System Still I like his central argument (correcting for this misunderstanding) and tend to agree that the term is often misused by business execs who lack a nuanced understanding of complex adaptive systems. Thanks for stimulating this wonderfully productive dialogue! Best, Joe Brewer Director, Cognitive Policy Works Co-Founder, DarwinSF
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Apr 2, 2013