Resiliency Invitation & Challenge

This is a long one, so I recommend sitting down with a good cup of coffee or tea first; I’ve got a bit of territory to cover, and I don’t know about you but I live in a world that I often struggle to reconcile myself with.
One such recent challenge came as I searched the web for resiliency related blogs and came across one by The Resilient Corporation. As they will tell you, they appear in a Fortune Special Feature titled: Weathering Any Storm: In today’s volatile world, corporations have to be resilient. That takes a smart risk-management strategy….
Excitedly I followed a search link to their blog post, “Levels of Resiliency;” and there I saw a model of levels of resilience that I find personally and professionally… deficient: not for what it includes-but for what it excludes.
The model’s shadow, or exclusion and thus danger as I see it (Resiliency’s Shadow – Domestication), includes three critical levels of exclusion: 1) the Earth herself, 2) the local ecology, in which any human identity construct always exists, and 3) and the international human domains.
And therein lies the challenge of my reconciliation with the world I live in that sparked this post: How do I engage with folks of differing perspectives and worldviews so as to encourage and invite openness and learning and dialog… on all sides, rather than provoking hostility or resistance or dismissal… from any of us?
Provoking the resilience of an existing attitude or belief system is as easy as attacking it. (Witness the escalation of our “Crusade” or War Against Terrorism, or try insulting your neighbor. That said, I am also sure the folks at The Resilient Corporation love nature too, and so I do not intend this as an attack, but as an invitation.) Creating an invitation and holding the space for mutual growth and even for transformation is… well, that requires a different engagement of our capacity for imagination… for thinking outside of the corral, so to speak.
Stephen Flynn (author of The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation) demonstrates a level of this “unconventionality” of thinking in his Special to CNN: Flynn: U.S. Not Prepared for the Next Big One.

Americans have failed to learn the most important lesson of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina: We need to make building resiliency from within our borders as urgent a priority as confronting dangers from without…

…More importantly, Americans are far more likely to be caught in the cross hairs of a major natural disaster such as an earthquake, flood, forest fire or a hurricane than an attack by terrorists.

…Acts of terror and disasters cannot always be prevented, but they do not have to be catastrophic. The key is being willing to invest in things that are not particularly sexy, such as public health, emergency planning and community preparedness.

I first encountered Flynn’s article at The Resilient Blog. The Levels of Resiliency model presented there supports Flynn’s encouragement to strengthen our inner resilience pro-actively. The model, as briefly presented, is essentially one of scales. The levels noted are: National, Regional, State, Community and Personal. It is a good and useful model of thinking such as it is, and I believe it is also human species-centric enough so as to contain dangers.
How is it possible, I ask, to model human scale resilience without placing on the map the environment and context all human activity occurs within? Speaking of intelligent risk management strategies, the eight page Special Advertising Feature, Weathering Any Storm, states:

It’s also crucial to consider the resiliency of all the partners and suppliers with whom you work….

Yet never in the Special Feature, or in the model of Levels of Resiliency, is there any acknowledgment that we are completely dependent upon the Earth and her life systems as the partnering source of our physical well-being and ultimately all economic activity.
Human Beings are a subsystem of the Cosmos and Earth systems, not the other way around; and human system resilience is intimately and reciprocally hitched to the larger ecosystems we are embedded within. Business models of resilience which fail to acknowledge this dependency are delusional in their thinking, disembodied in their risk taking, and unintelligent in their strategic planning; they will not survive the publics ecological awakening into the Languages of Life we are now entering into: relationship and reciprocity.
Below The Resilient Corporation’s post on Levels of Resiliency is an excellent post on The Language of Resiliency:

Words mean things, and being resilient calls for close attention to the lexicon we use in debating and making public policy about preparing for, responding to, and mitigating against threats, from whatever source.

From my accord with the spirit of that post I offer these invitations and challenges to… The Resilient Corporation and to any interested parties.
1. To embed our working models of resilience within an ecological frame that is also inclusive of local ecosystems, international human dynamics, and of the encompassing Earth system herself-in which each of the others are embedded. Our failure to language and think in such organic and living systems terms is reflective of the fragmenting wound modern humans share: our experience of separation, of isolation, and of impotence-too often expressed in the business and political worlds as a compensatory self-inflating egoic virility.
2. The second challenge is this one of language, to shift it from the mechanistic and rubber ball ‘bouncing back’ model of human resilience to one of learning, one oriented toward ‘bouncing forward,’ at the least. But hopefully, ultimately, we can shift to a developmental language that incorporates the evolutionary transformational, transcendent, and homeostatic and living systems nature of all human domain resilience.
So how can I be wildly resilient in the face of my challenges to reconcile with the world I find myself in, one dominated by worldviews often at odds with my own? It is a question larger than this post, and here is a summation:
Through orienting by the innate biotropism within, through ‘turning toward Life,’ my love of life, which then leads me to this reflective writing and the sharing of it, and by offering, in the spirit of inclusion and learning and growing, these invitations and challenges. It is such actions for me that help transform energies that might otherwise lead me into despair and a sense of impotence-into an experience and sense of creative engagement and beauty.
And how can we be prepared for the next Big One, whether from our enemies or more likely from Mother Nature? It will happen as we are willing to model and live our personal, community, corporate and national… lives as belonging within the larger global and local community of life we are part of. It will happen through the opening of one heart and one mind at a time.
Therein lies the wisdom of knowing that our social security and our community resilience is revealed in our willingness to, as Stephen Flynn says, “invest in things that are not particularly sexy, such as public health, emergency planning and community preparedness.” And I would include in this list of investments: in the education of our children as participants within the community of life, and in the care of our old as elders in the Circle of Life.
In this spirit rests the grounding, the vision and the hope of human system resilience, on global, national, regional, community, personal, and interspecies levels.
As you might hear in South Africa, in the spirit of the Nguni word Ubuntu, when asked: “Did you sleep well last night?”
The answer, incorporating relationship and reciprocity is: “I did if you did.”
Notes— A few resources on my mind as I wrote this:
For a systems model of community resilience that incorporates Environmental Stewardship, see: International Consortium of Organizational Resilience (ICOR)
For a view on where the business world is headed in relationship to the natural world, though sorting pr from reality here is yet beyond me, see Dow Chemical’s Human Element pr campaign on You Tube.
For a view on Natural Enterprise, see How to Save the World post here:

For a useful scaled model of personal resilience, see Al Siebert’s excellent, The Resiliency Advantage, or his web site The Resileiny Center.


  1. Kent

    09/09/2007 at 9:45 pm

    So you are saying that these other models of resiliency leave out “wildness” which you include in yours. It makes sense to me that a model which is based solely upon human activities and humanity’s artificial divisions of the world would be lacking. That is indeed “thinking inside the corral.”

  2. Darryl Moody

    09/10/2007 at 3:08 am

    We are more than thrilled to have also found Mr. Glover’s site and blog and to enter dialogue on resiliency. This area is subject to dialogue and the more the merrier, in our opinion. Let me assure everyone that we can not be offended or will feel attacked in any way by having our thoughts and ideas challenged. We put them out on the blog for that very purpose! So please fire away and let us all make the subject even more clear in our minds and find various ways to reach different audiences with this critical message.
    To the substance of Larry’s criticism of our model presented in the post Levels of Resiliency. We are in violent agreement with his comments. We believe the consideration of resiliency should include examination of varying levels of resiliency in individuals and that which surrounds them upon which they depend or are obligated to support or care for. It all counts.
    That elephant is big. No…Huge! And I think it would be hard for many people to wrap their minds around.
    Our approach to eating the elephant (figurativel speaking, please!) is to focus on one leverage point, the business community. We want to target that community and encourage adoption of the resiliency mindset and, more importantly, take actions that enhance resiliency. Essentially, we are betting that if we can show companies the bottom line value of being “resilient” they will take the actions to get there. Further, we define being resilient as a collection of indicators of performance, existence of capacities, or processes that the extent to how well the business executes them will indicate how resilient it is.
    The resiliency assessment model we use does iinclude a number of indicator elements that are relevant to ecological and outside the business issues. The model has 10 top level domains of resiliency, one of which is called “EcoSystem”. We believed this to be one of the uniqueness of our approach in that we were putting on the table EcoSystem considerations as key to being resilient along with security, preparedness, risk management, supply chain, human capital, and many others.
    Our model does not go as deep as the recommendations Larry makes for ecological and other considerations. And therein lies a dilemma. We believe the job of moving the rock in getting acceptance of a resiliency paradigm within the business community will be no easy feat. Making the definition one where there are actions within the company’s purview and control (with an identifiable business benefit) is a reasonable step.
    Getting the resiliency message spread and adopted is going to be a multi-prong attack. We’ve chosen the business community prong. What I hear LOUD and CLEAR is that we must be careful in our messaging and thoughts not to forget the other prongs. Further, we should maintain these sorts of dialogues to add to the discource and to keep ourselves honest. Again, I violently agree!
    Invitation accepted. 🙂
    Darryl Moody
    Resilient Corporation

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