What is Resilience?
Resilience is the capacity of a system to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of unforeseen changes, even catastrophic incidents.
Resilience is a common feature of complex systems, such as companies, cities, or ecosystems. These systems perpetually evolve through cycles of growth, accumulation, crisis, and renewal, and often self-organize into unexpected new configurations.
In a world of technological change, political turbulence, and mounting regulatory pressures, industrial growth does not proceed smoothly. Risk management is especially challenging when threats are unpredictable. At the same time, corporations are accepting broader responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of their supply chains.
A resilient enterprise has the capacity to overcome disruptions and continually transform itself to meet the changing needs and expectations of its customers, shareholders and other stakeholders.
Sustainability is not a utopian end-state. It is an attribute of dynamic, adaptive systems that are able to flourish and grow in the face of uncertainty and constant change. Achieving sustainability will require innovation, foresight, and effective partnerships among corporations, governments, and other groups.
While we cannot foretell the future, we can equip ourselves to adapt to the turbulence ahead. Resilience – resisting disorder – may be the key to global sustainability.
Resilience and Sustainability
Developing New Tools
Although industrial systems are non-linear and dynamic, most design and management methods are based on a linear, static worldview. As a result, our systems are brittle – vulnerable to small, unforeseen perturbations – and isolated from their environments.
The Center for Resilience is developing a new generation of methods, based on a broad, interdisciplinary synthesis of systems sciences. We are collaborating with companies in the energy, transportation, agriculture, and other industries to develop practical tools for measuring and improving the resilience of their products and processes.