Resilience: a Proactive vs Reactive approach

Resilience has been there in a small scale much before organizations has started talking about it. In most cases Resilience as a pro-active approach or in much common words – Preventive measures.

Oxford Dictionary – defines “Resilience is the act of rebounding or springing back”

In ecology defnition of resilience can be seen as, “The capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedback’s“.

Reactive vs Proactive

Resilience can be seen in two perspectives  as reactive OR proactive. Reactive approach, the traditional view of resilience is which allows the system to recover from disturbances/disasters using its inherent process. Like in the above definition of ecological resilience, the reactive approach does not give a clarity on what we may do to prevent the disturbance.

In the recent years proactive resilience has been emerged which helps the system to plan for the disturbances and suggests measures to reduce the effects of disturbances.

As given by White House and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  “Resilience is the ability to adapt to changing conditions and prepare for, withstand, and rapidly recover from disruption” introduces the proactive perspective of resilience by considering the events prior to disturbance.

While defining proactive resilience, words such as “anticipate” and “plan” becomes our key focus. We anticipate and plan for activities that occur before & cause the disturbance.

To plan for OR reduce effects of  the  events prior to disturbance, resulted in the emergence of proactive resilience, however they are dependent on the traditional concept of reactive resilience (some tag them as protection).

The failures, experiences from reactive resilience strategies forms pillars to develop and strengthen the proactive resilience strategies. Hence Resilience approach isn’t a binary choice between proactive or reactive methods. Proactive resilience finds its place in Protection / Prevention whereas Reactive resilience defines the strengths in adjusting / suriving through a situation.

Deciding your approach is therefore not a binary choice between reactive / proactive, its more about finding a balanced fit for the business.

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