Category Archives: Stephen DeAngelis

From Iraq to Sudan

Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, written by Stephen DeAnglis and edited by Bradd Hayes, links to a recent article in The Economist thatlooks forward to New Sudan. Both The Economist and the ERMB articles are worth reading, but I want to use this opportunity to extend my comparison of Palestine to Iraq.

Another Trifurcation?

Within a decade of 9/11, the world may see the division of the Palestinian territories into Fatah and Hamas states, the division of Iraq into Shia, Kurdish, and Sunni Arab regions, and the division of Sudan into “New Sudan” in the south, Darfur in the west, and a rump Khartoum government in the north.

This is exactly what is needed. 9/11 was a sympton of a malfunctioning Sunni Arab civilization combined with the Sunni Arab’s world to divert feedback from itself onto others. Our responses to 9/11 have served to redirect that feedback back to the source, destabilizing a Sunni Arab system already out of kilter instead of accepting a “stability” which generates violence for us.

That’s a good thing.

Update: Tom adds his thoughts.

Be Resilient, Part IV: The Importance of Measurement

SOA, Resiliency & Consiliency,” by Stephen DeAngelis, Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, 16 May 2006,

Child Labor & Resilient Nations,” by Stephen DeAngelis, Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, 7 September 2006,

But why measure? Why not just wax poetically about social OODA loops, revised OODA loops, and other unfalsifiable concepts? Just because those are unscientific concepts, of course, do not make them wrong.

Maybe we should just think that

that resilience can’t be developed sector by sector. It must be developed holistically, with challenges in each sector attacked simultaneously. Otherwise, advances in one sector are cancelled out by setbacks in others.

The answer is: a “holistic” view of resilience is operationally worthless. Holism replaces action with an ephemeral philosophy that is not relevant for Development-in-a-Box, or anything “in-a-Box.”

I don’t think I am saying anything controversial here. Enterra CEO Steve DeAngelis, who gave the above quote about holistic approaches, earlier qualified his speech by emphasizing that his words should not be taken precisely

Both Safranski and Weeks are correct that resilience, strictly defined, refers only to a bouncing back. Unfortunately, I live in the business world where words are used to “sell” not just explain. In Enterra Solution sales pitches we try to make the point that resilience (i.e., bouncing back) is no longer sufficient if organizations want to thrive, not just survive, when faced with emerging 21st century challenges.

In business, science, are any progressive enterprise that focuses on development, selling is critical. It is crucial to generate theories and objective facts that can be understood, even without some deeper philosophically harmony between partners.

There are times and places for subjective arguments. I’ve lauded subjective perspectives, such as interpretivism and constructivism, on this blog before. Great scientific theories, such as the Wary Cooperator Model, are built from horizontal thinking. Positivism will never explain everything to us, and it may not even explain much that matters to us. When we try to induce meaning from brute facts we may even be deceived.

But that does not detract from the insistence that developmental, progressive fields of study need measurement. That’s how we build useful bodies of knowledge. That’s how we create useful fields for engineers, such as resilient software development.

That’s how science works.

Be Resilient, a tdaxp series
1. How to Measure Resilience
2. How to Measure Agility
3. How to Measure Resiliency
4. The Importance of Measurement

Be Resilient, Part III: How to Measure Resiliency

Resilience measures the degree of shock needed to cause a perturbation. Agility measures avoidance of perturbation. Resiliency measures recovery from perturbation.

“Resiliency” has been similarly defined by

Resiliency is the ability to spring back from and successfully adapt to adversity.

Resiliency is a function of perturbation and is measured in production-factors and time. That is, the concept of “resiliency” only makes sense in the context of the set-back or disaster. So for example, New Orleans may have had very high resiliency against category four hurricanes, but very little resiliency against Katrina-class hurricanes.

Resiliency is a two-dimensional (or co-ordinational) number, with one ordinate measuring time to recovery and the other measuring the amount of labor, capital, and land needed to recover. For instance, say your house burns down and you are cash-rich but uninsured— your resiliency factor may be very good in time but very bad in resources (you can buy a new house in cash, but it will take a significant portion of your resources). Alternatively, take another person who may be cash-poor but well insured. His resiliency would be poor on the time-axis (because he would have to wait for the insurance check to arrive) but very good on the resources side (if the house is insured for replacement value, he may actually earn on the disaster).

Green has gone time-resiliency but Red has more resource-resiliency. How can we tell who has more resiliency?

A draw-back of a two-dimensional measure of resiliency is that it is hard to say which person would have more or less “resiliency.” Because different people will have different indifferent curves. For instance, under depending on indifferent curves used, each of these people may have greater resiliency!

Both Green and Red are on the good side of their private resiliency curves, but how can we tell who has more resiliency?

A single, objective measure of resiliency can be gained by determining a resiliency-value along each point from the resource-intercept (which is determined by how much time-resiliency someone has if he has zero resource-resiliency) and the time-intercept (which is determined by how much resource-resiliency someone has if he has zero-time resiliency). Then, take the area, and you have someone’s (or some organization’s) resiliency number. While one’s resiliency preference may be different from another, a researcher can now measures someone’s total resiliency.

Similarly, when Enterra CEO Stephen DeAngelis discusses “degrees of resiliency” among Muslim charities, the above definition of resiliency gives us a straight-forward way to objectively compare resiliency among Islamic responders.

Of course, why resiliency should be measured is a question for another time…

Be Resilient, a tdaxp series
1. How to Measure Resilience
2. How to Measure Agility
3. How to Measure Resiliency
4. The Importance of Measurement

Be Resilient, Part I: How to Measure Resilience

Factors of Production,” Wikipedia, 14 August 2006,

Resilience,” Wikipedia, 29 August 2006,

With Steve’s original post on Singaporean resilience continuing to gain traction (SG Entrepreneurs and China Law Blog have written things not mentioned in my first update), I thought it was time to take a stab at determining what, measurably, is resilience.

First, some definitions, from Wikipedia

resilience, n:
the capacity of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically and then, upon unloading to have this energy recovered
the magnitude of disturbance that can be absorbed before the system changes its structure by changing the variables and processes that control behavior

Resilience thus measures system-perturbation energy. To measure resilience, then, we need to determine what factors into the production of energy in system-perturbations. More generally, this means determining what are the factors of production, and here the answer is easy:

Factors of Production:

    includes Land, which means

  • Physical Territory
  • Natural Resources
  • includes Labor, which means

  • Human Effort
  • includes Capital, which means

  • Machinery
  • Tools
  • Buildings
  • Cash

These can be trivially operationalized — subjected to measurement — and we can answer the question of whether Singapore is resilient by measuring its resiliency in these factors. Working from what seems reasonable, we can say that Singapore is

  • not resilience in Physical Territory, as a small loss of Physical Territory would greatly impact the state
  • resilient in Natural Resources, as Singapore could use other factors (especially cash) to acquire more
  • resilient in human effort, as Singapore has a record of attracting more labor when the State is dissatisfied with her own
  • resilient in Machinery, as Singapore can buy more
  • resilient in Tools, as Singapore can buy more
  • resilient in Buildings, as Singapore can buy more
  • resilient in Cash, as Singapore has enough to cushion most shocks.

Of course, one can have resilience but not resiliency, though that is a post for another time…

Be Resilient, a tdaxp series
1. How to Measure Resilience
2. How to Measure Agility
3. How to Measure Resiliency
4. The Importance of Measurement