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February 26, 2007


James Drogan

At one time I was seeing Sheffi on a somewhat regular basis in my IBM role in Transportation Industry Marketing. I never walked away from an encounter without feeling enriched with new knowledge and new challenges.

Yossi and you are on a key issue. His book is a substantial contribution to a necessary dialog. I also recommend for your consideration Weick, Karl E., and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe. Managing the Unexpected: Assuring High Performance in an Age of Complexity. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, 2001.

I also wonder whether complexity is beginning to overtake our capacity for understanding and management. I would be interested in your views on this.



Sanjay Dalal

"The key is for a business to focus on resilience - which he defines as the ability to bounce back from disruptions and disasters by building in redundancy and flexibility. Standardization, modular design and collaborative relationships with suppliers and other stakeholders are among the kinds of capabilities that can help create a resilient company. It is equally important to embrace a corporate culture of flexibility - with distributed decision making and communication at all levels."

Irving, I plan on reading this book. Thank you for sharing the key insights.

One question I do have:

Would the investment required in time and resources to implement and create such a resilient business outweigh the benefits? For instance, is it analogous to buying an insurance policy? Or to put it another way, if a company does invest into redundancy and flexibility, would it make for efficient or inefficient decision-making especially at times of the greatest need? Also, at what stage of the business should a business begin to invest towards becoming a resilient business?

From a layman's perspective, it does make sense to hedge, and have preparedness for the emergencies and disasters. The question is how much is enough? Or can too much of it potentially make a company less willing to take risks, innovate and block creativity?

In the example of JetBlue, could JetBlue have become JetBlue if it had become focused (or obsessed) on becoming a resilient business from early on?

Kenneth Romans

Resilience is the answer to the question that is keeping us up at night - how do we make sure that last failure really will be the last? The most that folks are willing to commit is that they have done their best to prevent a repeat of what has already happened.

Yossi Sheffi's book, The Resilient Enterprise, breaks new ground by highlighting resilience and new ways to achieve it. As he makes clear, it is far more than the ability to bounce back from failure. Resilience is the ability to prevent the small problem from cascading into a catastrophe. And more.

Resilience is about much more than reliable platforms. It's about reliable infrastructure and applications all across IT. Even when all of the parts are reliable, you will still be at risk. The ominous emergent property of the whole complex of systems and people is likely to be hidden instability, not resilience. The apparent stability you seem to have while things are calm is an illusion. The next painful event ends the calm.

Resilience of the business is about more than reliability. The other side is innovation. Businesses must compete to survive, not just keep the systems up. IT must provide the systems that enable new products and services.

The sterile hygiene of a defensive IT that fights off change will kill a business. It will be unable to compete. Runaway innovation that bypasses IT process will kill a business. It will be unreliable. The conventional wisdom has been that the trick is to strike the right balance. It's a compromise.

The new frontier for IT is the quest for resilience from synergy, not compromise. IT must embrace business - not systems - resilience as the end. Then IT can do more than steer between control and innovation. The business is then resilient - it is reliable and competitive.

Good Tip

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