Embracing Resilience: Scaling up and Speeding up

We work in a complex world of changing pressures, relationships, interdependencies, and novel possibilities. Past performance and safety are no guarantee of continued success. What matters more and more is the ability to cope with the unexpected, and adapt to keep pace with change. As ever more organizations globally recognize and try to apply resilience engineering, we need to develop how we support the scaling up and speeding up of the adoption and application of these ideas.

Many organizations today have begun to recognize the limits of compliance—a model of success embodied in anticipation, plans, procedures, quality indicators, and automation. This model cannot effectively accommodate variability, disturbances, uncertainties or novelty, which is increasingly obvious in an interconnected and turbulent world. Compliance-oriented systems can experience surprising, sudden collapses in performance, such as dramatic service outages, despite a backdrop of improving safety and quality indicators. Instead of trying to eradicate the unexpected, today's organizations need to 'expect surprises' and to prepare for unexpected challenges and opportunities — in other words, they need to be poised to adapt in a world where surprising challenges and innovative opportunities are normal.

But crucial questions remain in the quest to speed up and scale up the adoption of resilience principles. What are the 'measures' that are going to replace< traditional ones? How do we know whether teams, systems and organizations are resilient? What are regulators and auditors going to have to look for in order to assess resilience? What accounts for the differences in scaling up and speeding up the adoption of resilience ideas across different domains? How can organizations respond to residual failures and breakdowns without resorting to componential explanations and increased compliance demands?