building-in resiliency

resource: On Being – Andrew Zolli: A Shift to Humility (transcript)

12 questions after listening or reading


in what ways do you currently accept that all things fail?

what systems, processes are in place that demonstrate this acceptance?

“I think the first premise is all things fail. And in fact not only do all things fail, but failure is intrinsic, healthy, normal, and necessary to most complex systems.”

how are you building resiliency and brutal acceptance of failure into your/company/team’s DNA?

what vocabulary are you using to constantly reinforce this?

“We needs systems that can self-reorganize, that are better at sensing emerging disruption. We need systems that encourage cooperation, rather than division. We needs systems that, where a failure in one component of the system doesn’t bring down every other component of the system. Those are really in many ways, they’re sort of a design brief for the 21st century.”

how are systems/machine built so failures and breakdowns are quickly identified?


how are you building your business/systems/teams to recover, persist, and thrive in the face of change?

which parts of the machine need to know about failures in others?

how are failures communicated?

how have you built your team, technology such that it has excess capacity in wisdom and ability to compensate for inevitable failure?

” Because we’ve so tightly connected all of these systems, it’s important that we have redundancy. It’s important that we have spare capacity. It’s important that we have the right kinds of social networks, so that we can share with each other. It’s important that we have a shared wisdom, a body of knowledge that helps us be more locally self-reliant.”

how is system/team/process X designed fail gracefully? not tearing down others?

“one of the things we need are systems that fail gracefully, that don’t bring down everything else….But this notion of failing gracefully — I mean, it’s a sentence that is true in life as well.”


what tradeoffs, short/long term, are you willing to make to enable resilience?

“But particularly given the complexity of these things, really what we need to talk about are tradeoffs. So there’s a tradeoff between the agility that comes with short-term thinking and wisdom that comes from long-term thinking.”

how do your relationships, physical health, and physical space enable resilience?

“So the short answer is there are many things that make you or I and the people we know and everyone we know more or less resilient psychologically, psychosocially. Your social networks, the quality of your intimate relationships, the degree to which you both love and experience love. Your access to other kinds of resources, physical resources. Your physical health, your genes and in particular the interaction between your genes and your life experiences.”


David Deustch – Beginning of Infinity

“we cannot create knowledge other than by the fallible method of conjecture and criticism; errors are inevitable, and only error-correcting processes can succeed or continue for long”

“The question about the sources of our knowledge…has always been asked in the spirit of: ‘What are the best sources of our knowledge–the most reliable ones, those which will not lead us into error, and those to which we can and must turn, in case of doubt, as the last court of appeal?’ I propose to assume, instead, that no such ideal sources exist–no more than ideal rulers–and that all ‘sources’ are liable to lead us into error at times. And I propose to replace, therefore, the question of the sources of our knowledge by the entirely different question: ‘How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?’ 

“Some problems are hard, but it is a mistake to confuse hard problems with problems unlikely to be solved. Problems are soluable, and each particular evil is a problem that can be solved. An optimistic civilization is open and not afraid to innovate, and is based on traditions of criticism. Its institutions keep improving, and the most important knowledge that they embody is knowledge of hot to detect and eliminate errors.” 222

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