The Age Of Resilience

In an online leadership course developed in 2016, I stressed the need for resilience and adaptability. The course, titled A Journey Through the Looking Glass, focused on an emerging world of complexity, uncertainty, and the unknown. We rarely heard the words resilience and adaptability spoken back then, but along came a pandemic to force them into our vocabulary. While our short-term focus obstructed our view, cracks were forming and accumulating in ways that were likely to put a premium on these two traits.

One of those cracks is described in detail in a new book titled The Age of Resilience. Author Jeremy Rifkin was an early influence on my thinking. In his book published in 2014, The Zero Marginal Cost society, he took a fascinating look at economic history. That look backward provided a window into possible economic futures. Now, eight years later, Rifkin positions a transformative vision for how our species will thrive on an unpredictable Earth. Through an organizational lens, I viewed resilience as the primary trait on a strategic foundation of automation and intelligence. Rifkin views it through the lens of the biosphere.

“Resilience,” in turn, has become the new defining refrain heard in countless venues. It is how we are coming to define ourselves in a perilous future that is now at the front gates. The Age of Progress has given way to the Age of Resilience.

Jeremy Rifkin – The Age of Resilience

We see evidence of this shift in supply chain discussions that speak of trade-offs between efficiency and resilience. Where efficiency marked the age of progress, adaptivity marks the age of resilience. Again, this shift could be seen lurking beneath the surface and continues to evolve as possible futures become harder to see, prediction gives way to rehearsal, and we collectively struggle to adapt. Viewed through an organizational lens, this see-rehearse-adapt framework sits at the heart of viability. However, Rifkin raises the stakes and views it through the lens of humanity. The viability question takes on different meaning when viewed this way. Another great read which I have added to my library.

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