Tag Archives: resilience

Be Resilient, Part IV: The Importance of Measurement

SOA, Resiliency & Consiliency,” by Stephen DeAngelis, Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, 16 May 2006, http://enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com/enterprise_resilience_man/2006/05/the_blogger_wig.html.

Child Labor & Resilient Nations,” by Stephen DeAngelis, Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, 7 September 2006, http://enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com/enterprise_resilience_man/2006/09/child_labor_res.html.

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.com

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 II: How to Measure Agility

In the previous post, I measured resilience by the amount of effort required to perturb a system. In this page I will discuss a related element, agility, which is shown by systems that do not experience perturbation in spite of risk factors. For instance, an economy that is extremely dependent to variation in the flow of capital would be a capital-wise non resilient economy. A person who is extremely dependent on nurse for support would be labor-wise a non resilient person. A household that required their home not to be destroyed by a hurricane would be land-wise a non-resilient home.

Yet each of these resilience-challenged entities express agility if they continue successful operation in spite of a perturbation. If the economy keeps humming, if the patient stays alive, if the home does flood in spite of storms, all of them demonstrate agility.

Given that, I will use the following definition

agility, n:
the capacity to enforce the presence or flow of land, labor, or capital such that system perturbations do not result in system transformations

Agility can thus be seen as a form of power over circumstances. A capital-dependent economy can have agility through contracts or a powerful friends (a pillaging army). A labor-dependent patient can have agility through contracts or powerful friends (mafia buddies). A land-dependent family have have agility through contracts or powerful friends (guys strong enough to lift sandbags).

It follows that agility is by nature a social phenomenon that is dependent on the quality of the relationships between an entity and others.

A nation suffering an oil-shock that responds by successfully occupying the striking oil fields, however, would demonstrate agility. (Of course, if that nation occupies the oil wells clumsily and stupidly such that the system changes from one state to another, then no agility is demonstrated).

To measure agility, we take the minimum amount of capital, land, or labor that is required to enforce the flow or presence of the perturbing fluctuation in capital, land, or labor from the amount possessed. For instance, a house during Katrina would not have agility, because it is impossible to trade labor or capital to make up for the fluctuation in land. We might approximate this from a pattern of responses to perturbations. If a patient has experienced a number of nursing strikes, for instance, but has maintained care for himself, then he has a historic record of agility.

Of course, one can have agility 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

Be Resilient, Part I: How to Measure Resilience

Factors of Production,” Wikipedia, 14 August 2006, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factors_of_production.

Resilience,” Wikipedia, 29 August 2006, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resilience.

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

Singapore is a Single Point of Failure Because Singapore is a Single Point

Singapore Revisited,” by Stephen DeAngelis, Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, 29 August 2006, http://enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com/enterprise_resilience_man/2006/08/singapore_revis.html.

Steve’s recent post on Singaporean resilience was picked up by Fred, Sean, and myself, and Steve kindly responded to a criticism that Singapore isn’t resilient because it is a signal point of failure

Unfortunately for Singapore, it is a classic example of a single point of failure. I respect Steve D. & Enterra, but in the proliferated 21st Century, resilient assets must be distributed assets. Singapore, by definition, isn’t.

I must admit that Zimmerman’s logic escapes me. My entire point was that Singapore is trying to expand into more economic sectors (beyond electronics and finance) in order to avoid setting itself up for “single point” failure.

Singapore is a single point of failure because Singapore is a city-state, a significant fraction of which could be obliterated by a terrorist nuclear bomb. This may be best understood visually:


100 kilotons over Singapore

Singapore is not unique in this — all high-density cities are so vulnerable — but there is a physical dimension to resiliency which needs to be considered, too.

Is Singapore Resilient?

Singapore’s Resilient Strategy,” by Stephen DeAngelis, Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, 25 August 2006, http://enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com/enterprise_resilience_man/2006/08/singapores_resi.html.

Singapore Is Not Resilient,” by W.F. Zimmerman, Nimble Books LLC, 25 August 2006, http://www.nimblebooks.com/wordpress/2006/08/25/singapore-is-not-resilient/.

In a recent blog post, Enterra CEO Stephen F. DeAngelis all but said that Singapore is resilient

In other words, Singapore isn’t lamenting that the world is changing and it might be losing jobs that might be going elsewhere; rather, it is actively trying to change its position in the future it sees emerging. That is what a resilient enterprise does. A few years ago, Francis Fukuyama wrote, “Just as the twentieth century was the century of physics … the twenty-first promises to be the century of biology.” [“Second Thoughts: The Last Man in the Bottle,” The National Interest, Summer 1999, p. 17] Apparently Singaporean officials see the future in much the same way. The article relates a number of proactive steps that Singapore has made to ensure its place in the emerging world.

No one can doubt that Singapore’s economic miracle has become permanent. Its resilient strategy is positioning Singapore for an emerging future rather than trying to get the country to cling only to those sectors that made it successful in the past, like electronics and finance. It jump started its strategy by importing world-class scientists, building world-class facilities, and ensuring that its standards are as high as any around the globe. It’s a great lesson in resiliency.

Yet Nimble Books Publisher W. Frederick Zimmerman (the same man who sent me Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus to review) notes a flaw in the logic

Unfortunately for Singapore, it is a classic example of a single point of failure. I respect Steve D. & Enterra, but in the proliferated 21st Century, resilient assets must be distributed assets. Singapore, by definition, isn’t.

Clearly, DeAngelis and Zimmerman are thinking of “resilience” in different ways, and both of them may be right. Just as Thomas Barnett “New Map” was operationalized (defined in terms of numbers and variables), Stephen DeAngelis should operationalize rationality.

Operationalization allows discussions to move forward in ways they otherwise couldn’t. For instance, in a recent thread on Barnett’s website, I was able to show why Tom’s model describes Mexico as “Core” and not “Gap.’ Yet, as far as I know, Steve hasn’t blogged a model that allows one to do the same things with countries that are “Resilient” or “Fragile.”

Enterra should at least create a framework for measuring resilience, like Thomas Barnett did in his book The Pentagon’s New Map. Then we can move this debate forward, and not forever trip over ourselves.

Evolutionary Resilience (Synthesizing "Third Party Punishment" by Kurzban, DeScioli, and O’Brien and "He Hit Me First" by DeAngelis)

These are my first notes for my class on Genetic Politics since I finished the Buller, Pinker, and Ridley. The notes are from an unpublished manuscript, “Audience Effects on Moralistic Punishment,” by Robert Kurzban and two co-authors from the University of Pennsylvania. I previously described Bob Kurzban’s lecture on UNL, and some of that lecture was derived from this study.

The study’s findings of punishment increases when third parties are watching, which has an explanation in evolutionary psychology, relate to Stephen DeAngelis’ latest post on the destabilizing influence of escalating punishments. Stephen notes

Resilient organizations cannot afford to be caught up in this vicious circle. The reason that Tom and I promote standards-based development and rule sets in general is because they help mitigate behavior. The World Trade Organization, for example, was established so that a dispassionate group could rule on impassioned trade disputes. Even that doesn’t work all the time. The collapsed Doha Round of talks is clear evidence of that. Everyone recognizes that their collapse is a shameful failure and that the consequences are not likely to be beneficial — but that doesn’t seem to matter. The reason, of course, is that “all politics is local.” Gilbert concludes on the pessimistic note that old hatreds and intolerance still play a large role on the global stage.

An advantage of enforced rulesets is that they limit the need for every organization to prove that he is tough enough to protect itself in all ways. Rulesets help end the state of anarchy, which increases Peace and averts destruction of lives and property. Enforced local security rulesets have helped drive the murder rate down a hundred times in the past millennium. Enforced trade rule sets too can save many lives, by preventing countries from having to posture before the anonymous crowd.

The rest of this post are quotes from the research article which I may use later for my final project, tentatively entitled System Administrations for Phenotypes.


“People punish wrongdoers, intervening even when they themselves have not been harmed.” (Kurzban et al 3)

“Punishment has been linked with the evolution of cooperation in groups (Boyd & Richerson, 1992), a connection which has strengthened in recent years (Boyd, Gintis, Bowles, & Richerson, 2003; Fehr & Gächter, 2002).” 4)

“Indeed, Gintis, Smith, and Bowles (2001) found that punishment can yield signaling benefits when high quality individuals have reduced costs or increased benefits associated with punishment… That is, these models imply that selection pressures favored cognitive mechanisms whose operation is mediated by the presence of an audience” (Kurzban et al 5)

“Participants punished (i.e., chose the latter, less profitable option) 74% of the time.” (Kurzban et al 6)

“The presence of others has long been known to have effects on decisions to engage in more pro-social (Latane, 1970), and less anti-social (Diener, Fraser, Beaman, & Kelem, 1976) behavior, consistent with the view that people are concerned about others’ perceptions of them, especially in the domain of morality (Jones & Pittman, 1982). … Kurzban (2001), for example, showed that in a public goods game, having people exchange mutual oblique eye-gazes (but no information about others’ contributions) increased contributions to the public good in (all-male) groups compared to a control condition with no eye-gaze.” (Kurzban et al 8)

“Five experimental sessions were held in the Penn Laboratory for Evolutionary Experimental Psychology (PLEEP) at the University of Pennsylvania.” (Kurzban et al 10)

“The relatively high frequency of (D,C) is extremely unusual, a result for which we have no good explanation.” (Kurzban et al 17)

“Quite unexpectedly, in the Participants condition, at least one subject attempted to deceive others by announcing a false outcome.” (Kurzban et al 18)

“Under anonymous conditions, people did punish, but relatively little…In contrast, punishment increased when even one person knew the decisions made by the participant… No participants indicated in their free responses that they were punishing because they were being observed.” (Kurzban et al 19)

“This suggests that observation might activate emotional systems (e.g., anger) and attenuate systems for computing one’s own economic interest… These results, combined with those from the present study, suggest that anonymity has a weaker effect in the context of second party punishment than in third-party punishment.” (Kurzban et al 20)

“Demand characteristics refer to features of an experiment that allow participants to infer what is expected of them and, thereby, cause them to act in that way, limiting the inferences that can be drawn from the experiment (Orne, 1962).” (Kurzban et al 21)

“Second, arguments regarding the putatively modular system underlying punishment suggest that mere cues of social presence, such as eyespots, might exert effects similar to actual social presence (e.g., Haley & Fessler, 2005).” (Kurzban et al 23)

Catholic Enterprise Resilience

My recent podcast discussed Christianity and evolution, and my blogfriend Sean Meade raised some issues with my understanding of the faith. It’s delightful to have this sort of conversation, and I am very grateful to podcaster Phil Jones for the discussion his work has brought. My short answer to his questions “Paul believed in resilient enterprises.” For a longer answer, read on…

Paul summarized Christianity in three words, one of which is most important

“There are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Paul was explaining Christ’s commandment to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39). But Paul didn’t just apply the commandment to the individual-level-of-analysis — teaching Christians how they should treat each other — but also the system level — how Christian groups should interact with each other. Using circumcision as an example, Paul writes

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth… The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:6-7,14-15)

Paul gives a tricky prescription for the church. Paul is insisting there are both relevant and irrelevant doctrinal questions. The relevant one is love, without which the everything is forfeited. Yet an irrelevant one is circumcision, which doesn’t matter, and which Paul wishes Christians would just stop arguing about.

alpha_chi_ro_omega_md
sicut in caelo et in terra.

In other words, Paul is insisting that Christianity be a resilient enterprise. It should be a realm of limited competition, in which affiliates are free to adapt themselves to local conditions but not free to engage in destructive competition. The Catholic Church comes the closest to any organization in history in implementing this. A plethora of bishoprics, orders, uses, and rites fill up the local niches, bending to this preference and that, in order for the basic message to remain the same against ideological encroachment.


Given this, even the very beginning of the Protestant Reformation is regrettable. As opposed to the internal diversity encouraged by the Church, Luther’s first two theses were

Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.

Luther presents an always-everywhere variation of Christianity, directly aimed at Christians who disagree with him on neither faith, nor hope, nor love, but an even outer Christian belief.

As opposed to Luther’s narrowing of the faith, the Jesuits (formally known as the Society of Jesus) believed in inculturing it. For example, if faith, hope, and love — but most importantly, love — are made easier for a Chinese peasant by assuring him that the Lord of Heaven really does love him, then assure him of that. For it’s certainly true. John Paul II described this as “the insertion of Christianity in the various human cultures.” This is a far more human undertaking than attempting to build culture anew.

This blog’s old masthead was “Beauty. Victory. God.” Victory is a beautiful concept — it’s what Paul talked about in his racing analogy, and what John Paul was aiming for describing a 4GW-style insertion of Christianity into existing social networks. If we bite and devour each other — if we lose — we destroy each other. Missionaries realizing the power of darwinian competition while inserting Christianity is no less Christian than missionaries realizing the power of gravity when they decide to take the stairs instead of jumping.

The Enemy of Fingertip-Feeling and Resilience

White Men Can’t Help It,” by Michael Orey, Business Week, 15 May 2006, pg 54, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_20/b3984081.htm

One can only hope…,” by Leonard Powers, Business Week, 5 June 2006, pg 17, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_23/c3987014.htm

“Sociology is the Mississippi of the Social Sciences. No matter how bad your field it, sociology is always worse.”
– Overheard

This post isn’t about racism, though it could be:

Enter the magician. Sociologist William T. Bielby is the leading courtroom proponent of a simple but powerful theory: “unconscious bias.” He contends that white men will inevitably slight women and minorities because they just can’t help themselves. So he tries to convince judges that no evidence of overt discrimination — no smoking gun memo, for instance — is needed to prove a case. As Allen G. King, an employment defense attorney at the Dallas office of Littler Mendelson, puts it: “I just have to leave you to your own devices, and because you are a white male,” you will discriminate.


Nor is it about babbling academics, though it could be:

One can only hope the courts will soon realize that “unconscious bias” theory is a silly amalgamation of junk science and psychobabble whose sole objective is to profit at the expense of the innocent.

Rather, it’s about a disastrous movement growing in corporate America in response to these threats:

The key flaw that Bielby typically finds in the companies he testifies against is that they give managers too much discretion and let them rely on too many subjective factors in hiring, promotion, and pay. In that kind of unfettered atmosphere, he says, all people (not just white men) unknowingly revert to stereotypes in making decisions. “The tendency to invoke gender stereotypes in making judgments about people is rapid and automatic,” Bielby wrote in a 2003 report on Wal-Mart that was filed with the court. “As a result, people are often unaware of how stereotypes affect their perceptions and behavior,” including “individuals whose personal beliefs are relatively free of prejudice.”

Bielby faulted Wal-Mart for the way it identifies candidates for management positions that often require a move. Without a “systematic mechanism” for determining who might be interested, he wrote in his report, managers may automatically assume women don’t want jobs that require them to relocate.

Job postings are one way around this problem. But Bielby, citing deposition testimony of Wal-Mart executives, noted that store managers had authority to bypass the retailer’s posting system and “informally approach” candidates. That can result in what he calls “tap-on-the-shoulder” promotions, typically favoring men. In its appeal, Wal-Mart says Bielby’s testimony is unscientific and unreliable.

The good Dr. Biebly is attacking the use of fingertip-feeling in business. Fingertip-feeling, or as Erwin Rommel called it, “fingerspitzengefuhl” is an intuitive feeling that is critical to success. It lies halfway between automaticity and comprehension, and following fingertip-feeling is important to success in nearly every field.

During the Vietnam War, the US Army widely abandoned fingertip-feeling and adapted a more systematic approach to complex operations. The alternative, the Zero Defect Policy championed by Secretary of Defense Robert Macnamara, was described as a “cancer” by generals and was partially responsible for losing us the war.

Yet, despite the great similarities between war and business, men like Bielby would mandate, through the Courts, the abandonment of fingertip-feeling by corporate firms. Indeed, he and his allies have already made substantial progress here. And it may be disastrous.

American companies have historically been resilient and adaptive, but this court-mandate would make this much, much harder. Call is “maldevelopment in a box.” It cherrypicks the best of the American system, throws it into the manure pile, and gives us whatever courts decide instead.

Utterly sickening, and utterly typical of the Leftist Courts.