Book Review: “Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back”

Graeme Cowanresilience

Those of you who are following my blog will note that I am in the process of writing a six part series about resilience. The series is currently halfway – having started out looking at what resilience is, signs of a resilient mindset and what core purpose is, the series will continue to look at practical, actionable ways to develop resilience.

I feel it fitting to review a book by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back. The essence of the book can be summarised by the following extract:

“If we cannot control the volatile tides of change, we can learn to build better boats. We can design – and redesign – organizations, institutions, and systems to better absorb disruption, operate under a wider variety of conditions, and shift more fluidly from one circumstance to the next. To do that, we need to understand the emerging field of resilience.”

In a nutshell, that is what this book is about: a systems-based view of the world with an emphasis on the develop of resilience so as to maintain core purpose in the face of challenges and obstacles. The book develops this thesis through case studies that illustrate the concept and related principles.

The book is certainly not light reading – the examples are detailed and you need to follow Zolli’s logic. But the case studies are well-presented and interesting, yielding examples of the qualities needed for resilience and the benefits and effects that a resilient strategy can yield.

Whilst there is no specific addressing of personal resilience in the book – and it’s not positioned as a ‘self-help’ reference – you can read of and understand the importance of resilience in an increasingly uncertain world, so Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back can provide a well-researched conceptual introduction to and illustration of resilience in action. Hopefully, you will then combine this understanding with my current and future writing on this topic to turn theory into practice.

This book can be heavy-going, but if you’re new to systems-based concepts, I do recommend you take a look!