Everybody loves resilience. It’s a calm, reassuringly solid word.
1. The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy.
2. The property of a material that enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed; elasticity.
The problem is we are not ever going to return to our original shape or position. There are philosophical reasons for this: you can’t step in the same river twice. There are practical reasons for this: technology and politics are constant change, and technology produces all kinds of acceleration. But, simply, the future, whatever it is, good or bad, is not going to look like the past.
Resilience is a comforting concept. It says “you can take a licking and keep on ticking.” It says “you will recover and restore your original shape after a crisis.” It’s fundamentally nostalgic. You wish for the way things were, and you put things back that way after the storm has passed.
My friends, the storm is not going to pass. The storm is called life. We want systems which do not suffer from cascading failures. We want systems which keep working through trouble. We want systems which are easy to fix when they break.
But we want systems that aggressively and relentlessly adapt to their environments – good and bad – and any opportunity to prosper therein, not just systems that can recover from being whacked.
Resilience is passive. We need to move beyond it before the concept gets too dug in.