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The Change Designs Blog is a collection of insights, personal stories and real life experiences from people working in organizations. In this blog you will find real life stories depicting magical experiences and struggles, where the truth is richer, stranger and more practical than any theory or model. If you've ever wanted to read the diary of a leader, strategist, change agent, consultant, facilitator or a coach, or you are grappling with problems at work, then you will enjoy reading this practical blog.

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Is resilience the new key success factor?

Ruth Tearle - Friday, May 25, 2012

Is resilience the new 'key success factor' of these times?

Today, I noticed a spider spinning his web between two branches of a tree. The web sparkled with raindrops. A part of me admired its beauty. Another part of me observed how easy it would be to snap the web with a single flick of my fingers and destroy all of the spider's work in one simple action. I wondered what would it do if its web got destroyed? Unlike humans, it wouldn't get distressed. It wouldn't take my brutal action personally. It wouldn't lose its confidence. It wouldn't blame the economy. It would simply begin again. Spinning another web. A web of a different shape, and size. A new web. Spiders are resilient.

I was recently invited to join a discussion group with the topic of 'resilience.' The group was started by Rod Warner who has written a book about resilience.

The dictionary definition of resilience is an individual's tendency to cope with stress and adversity.

Now I am a member of many discussion groups, but the high energy in this group around the topic of resilience made me wonder. How many people need support right now? How many are struggling in these difficult times? How many people and organizations, who may have built their busineses over many years, were now spiders with a broken web. And is this the result of a stagnant economy, or are we in the middle of a paradigm shift?

'When a paradigm shifts, everyone goes back to zero.' Joel Barker

Many years ago, Joel Barker created a video entitled "Discovering the future." In it he used the word 'paradigm' to describe an aspect of human behaviour - creating and living by rules. It goes like this. As we experience success, we learn from our experience of what works and what doesn't work for us. Over time we turn what has worked for us into rules or regulations about how we will behave in the future. For companies doing strategic planning, those rules are known as 'key success factors.' We tend to play by the same rules until suddenly they don't work anymore. We look around and notice the game has changed and we are playing by the old rules for a game that no longer exists. We are spiders in the middle of a web that has been torn apart.

Spinning a new web

spider-webUnlike spiders who simply spin another web, only to have it torn down again and again, we humans have the ability to think strategically. We can identify new strategic trends that are changing the game of business. We can identify the new game in town. We can work out the new rules or key success factors of the new game. And then, with resilience, fortitude, courage and perserverence, we can spin a web that will last. That in essence is strategic management at work.


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