• Local resilience in systemic crises: WOOO vs. YOYO

    by  • January 18, 2013 • Everything Else • 3 Comments

    Dougald wanted me to write up a couple of concepts quickly. Firstly, the “don’t wait for State help in a systemic crisis.”

    1. The State has about 1% of the population as first responders: police, army, fire service, coast guard, the lot.
    2. In a systemic crisis, there’s no enormous reserve of people from unaffected areas to draw on for help.
    3. In such a systemic crisis – financial collapse, pandemic flu, massive grid failure – resources will cover the worst 5% or 10% of the people affected. Think of this in terms of “how many people can one policeman help if they’re all in equal trouble?”
    4. Therefore, make all efforts to stand on your own feet* during such a crisis, because you don’t want to be in the most badly affected 5% of the population that receives help from the State.

    Lucas has an interesting perspective on the modes of “standing on your own feet.”

    • YOYO is the standard model, “You’re On Your Own,” as said when the last plane leaves.
    • WOOO is the new model, “We’re On Our Own,” said when people organize mutual aid in times of crisis.

    It makes all the difference in the world, but remember that resilience grows as assets exceed liabilities: it’s important to count group strength, not just group size, when considering the resilience of teams. It doesn’t matter how big your group is, you can’t make insulin or zoloft.


    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


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