Book Club: Resilience Dividend

"Resilience is the capacity of an entity – an individual, a community, an organization, or a natural system – to prepare for disruptions, to recover from shocks and stresses, and to adapt and grow from a disruptive experience."
-Judith Rodin

I was under no misconceptions about what the year 2016 would mean for me. In late 2015, while social media statuses were aflutter with posts about the annual fresh start we're all granted, I braced myself. I wasn't exactly negative, but I had a realistic understanding of what was ahead. I knew that personal and professional disruptions were on the horizon.

While Christmas trees and wrapping paper were being strewn about, I suddenly remembered that I’d had the book Resilience Dividend in my Amazon queue for months. So finally, in that coveted week of rest between Christmas and January 1st, I started reading. By page 4 I was hooked. It's as an academic-style read (prepare your highlighter!), which I admit doesn't typically make for a page turner.


However, 2 things about it grabbed me: 

My now-fiancé, the morning before he left to run the 2013 Boston Marathon 

1 – Judith Rodin uses a sweeping variety of global events to illustrate resilience (or lack thereof) characteristics; nearly every reader will be able to connect to at least 1. Think: Hurricane Katrina, the Lululemon see-through yoga pants spectacle of 2013, Nigeria’s ability to handle its increasing population, or the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, to name a few. These examples demonstrate how being resilient can create prosperity from disruption.

2 – At the time of reading, I was feeling alone in my feelings about the future. I had no idea how I’d deal with - let alone embrace - the disruption that awaited me on the other side of January 1st. The book felt like a teacher instructing me: "Focus on these things, and you'll thrive."


My characterization thus far may make this book sound like it belongs in the self-help section. But to the contrary, it's a business and socioeconomic resource that gives the reader tools to create a framework -so that in the case of disruption, the resilience dividend emerges.

The positive residue of disruption has a multiplier effect that helps an entity not only recover but bound into the future

A Sri Lanka coastal town we visited in 2015, 15 years after a massive cyclone struck its shore


Remember: a "disruption" is not only a catastrophe but can be a myriad of things: moving, starting a new venture, or changing your relationship status. It's something new, where things are no longer what they were before. 

Here's the checklist of Resilience Characteristics. How do they stack up for your organization, company, or self? Are you...

  • Aware of your strengths, assets, liabilities, and vulnerabilities? Of your risks and threats? You must be aware of them in order to prepare for potential disruptions. Once you are aware, constantly re-assess; take in updated information and adjust real-time. (Recently, a classmate suggested that I do a personal SWOT analysis. Genius, right?)


  • Diversified? You’ve seen me hint at the need for diversity, but seeing diversity as part of resilience preparation makes for the ultimate argument. Capacity and supply must come from multiple sources so that if 1 is disrupted, others will respond. Furthermore, the others should represent multiple ideas, information sources, technical inputs, and people.


  • Integrated? How do your diversified elements weave together into cohesive solutions and coordinated actions? Do they talk to and work together openly and honestly? 


  • Self-regulating? A disruption should not be able to cause a shock so deep that the foundation collapses, whether it’s literal or figurative. The organization (or person) must “fail safely.”


  • And lastly, Adaptive? This means that you embody flexibility, adapt to changing circumstances, and can apply existing resources to new purposes.


I've even heard companies say that the #1 characteristic they're looking for in managers is resilience. After all, "In the 21st century... we live in a world that is defined by disruption."


So what do you think? What's your Resilience Dividend? 





Images from Sundae Schneider-Bean, personal snaps, and the Rockefeller Foundation

Posted on April 4, 2016 and filed under Book Club.