4. Assessing resilience
Defining, assessing and comparing resilience are the first steps in resilience management. In the context of community resilience, for instance, the ability to measure the concept is increasingly being seen as a key step toward disaster risk reduction.
Assessing and comparing are needed in order to, for instance, estimate baseline resilience and measure progress toward resilience. Comparing different entities could be a motivator and one could follow the progress over time. Best practices could be highlighted and serve as guiding examples. Outside of moments of crisis, the assessment of resilience is also useful in order to capture the essence of resilience, and to examine the factors that contribute to (or undermine) resilience. The identification of such factors is important in order to identify the most effective measures to actually enhance resilience and reduce brittleness. It also provides effective markers in order to monitor and assess resilience during the management of crises.
The assessment and monitoring of community resilience prior to, during and after the occurrence of crises allows policy makers to establish interventions and plans in collaboration with community leaders and members, in order to ensure communities will be better able to manage and recover from future events.
One of the aims of Resilience Engineering is to learn from the everyday performance and from successful operations, rather than by only through lessons learned after failures. In line with this, identifying Sources of Resilience means investigating the mechanisms by which organizations successfully handle expected and unexpected conditions. Such mechanisms (e.g., strategies, processes, tools) allow the organization to adapt, perform and deliver required services in spite of the variability and complexity they experience in their operations. This adaptive capacity can be recognized by looking at the work-as-done, both in daily operations and unusual or exceptional scenarios, in order to identify sources of resilience and to learn from what goes well.
The interventions proposed here aim to support organisations to identify sources of brittleness in order to invest in their correction.
Brittleness is experienced in situations of goal conflicts and trade-offs, or when there is a competition for resources and a need to establish priorities under time pressure. Other difficulties emerge when an organisation struggles to manage functional interdependencies between different parts of the same organisation, or when there is insufficient buffer capacity to provide additional resources. Noticing brittleness also means observing operational variability and comparing work-as-done with work-as-imagined, so to reveal how the system might be operating riskier than expected. In addition, brittleness manifests itself when the organisation is unable to learn from past events, such as near misses and accidents.