Introduction to Resilience

Resilience is the capacity to reorganize after a disruption without losing what is essential. The capacity for a social system (e.g., individuals, organizations, neighbourhoods, communities, whole societies) to absorb disturbance and adapt where necessary, while undergoing significant change, is the defining characteristic of someone or something that is resilient. It is now often referred to as our society’s most valuable asset.

If we return to the model of the the Adaptive Cycle (see Dip into Social Innovation), you’ll notice that the cycle does not ever reach an ‘end point’; it is not linear but infinite. This tells us that once an idea, organization or community reaches maturity, it needs to remain open to change and exploration to retain its resilience. We know that systems that effectively introduce novelty (e.g., new products, services, ideas) and that intentionally re-engage vulnerable populations, are more resilient, ie:  able to adapt positively to change.