Tag Archives: resilience

March 13, 2016

Patterns of Resilience and Collapse

In 1901, the writer and Nobel laureate Maurice Maeterlinck published “The Life of the Bee”, which popularized the idea that humanity owes our continued survival to the dutiful pollinator. “It is … estimated that more than a hundred thousand varieties of plants would disappear if the bees did not visit them,” Maeterlinck noted, “and possibly [...]

March 9, 2014

Taking the Pulse of the Planet

If you could take a picture of the whole world every day, what could you see? It’s a simple question, with a fantastical, almost childlike premise. Now, a remarkable startup, Planet Labs, is working to answer it. The brainchild of three visionary ex-NASA scientists and technologists (Will Marshall, Robbie Schingler, and Chris Boshuizen), PlanetLabs is [...]

October 28, 2013

The Verbs of Resilience

In the course of conversation with leaders, practitioners and critics, I sometimes encounter a set of questions about resilience thinking that unfold along the following lines: Resilience (of the right things) seems self-evidently valuable, but is it more than a buzzword? If so, how do we put it into practice? What exactly do we do [...]

August 9, 2013

The Birth of a Meme

Google’s N-gram viewer allows you to watch the prevalence of certain words or phrases among the vast library of books that the company has been digitizing. As such, it’s a powerful tool for seeing patterns in our culture – so much so that it’s become a basic tool in the new field of culturomics, the [...]

April 23, 2013

Ordinary Magic,
No Less Magical

Here is one of the most powerful graphs I’ve been exposed to in some time: It’s from a remarkable case study, first published in 1989, by the developmental child psychologist (and one of my intellectual heroes) Ann Masten and her colleague Mary J. O’Connor. The diagram tells part of the developmental story of Sara (not her [...]

November 3, 2012

Goodbye Sustainability,
Hello Resilience.

An edited version of this essay appears today as an Op-Ed in the New York Times: For decades, people who concern themselves with the world’s “wicked problems” — interconnected issues like environmental degradation, poverty, food security and climate change — have marched together under the banner of “sustainability”: the idea that with the right mix [...]

September 26, 2012

Resilience and Simplification

This essay appears today on the website of the Harvard Business Review: This July, aviation officials released their final report on one of the most puzzling and grim episodes in French aviation history: the 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447, en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. The plane had mysteriously plummeted from an altitude of thirty-five thousand [...]

July 12, 2012

Learning from SARS

On November 16, 2002, physicians at the First People’s Hospital, in the Shunde district of Foshan City, in the southern province of Guandong, China, reported an unusual case of severe pneumonia. A few days previously, a local farmer had been admitted the hospital complaining of a high fever and a dry cough, and had died [...]

June 24, 2012

Why Iceland

After many months of planning, PopTech has arrived in Iceland. One of the most common questions I get is why we’re here, so let me offer a few thoughts. Iceland is a truly remarkable place, both geographically and culturally. To begin with, it’s a physically gorgeous country, filled with waterfalls, glaciers, shimmering northern lights and [...]

June 8, 2012

Remembering and Forgetting

One thing I learned when working on Resilience with Ann Marie is that writing a nonfiction book is about much more than researching and engagingly presenting a body of ideas. It’s also about inviting a set of questions, themes and not-quite-complete lines of thought into your head, and letting them occupy it long after the writing is [...]