ASC 2017 Conference: Why Attend?

Resilience is Critical

Insights to be gained from the 2017 Conference of the ASC:

This interdisciplinary conference invites you to join a conversation across the worlds of business, system science, cognitive science, non-profit organizations, psychology, communications, design, philosophy, and management consulting. As in past years, our annual ASC conference offers attendees new ideas, strategies, and creative pathways to help both them and their organizations better cope in an ever-changing world.

Resilience is the ability of an organization to recognize, rapidly respond to, and recover from challenges arising from changes in their external and internal environments. Resilience allows organizations to seize opportunities hidden within what otherwise appear as risk events. Resilience is the individual or collective ability to quickly adapt to disruptions while maintaining continuous operations and safeguarding people, assets, and image. In many situations, resilience is highly desirable, while paths to resilience are unclear –understand possible leverage points can be beneficial.

What are the implications? Taking action to correct outcomes characterizes a broad variety of disciplines, and it lies at the heart of design, and it defines the theoretical concerns of cybernetics.

Many organizations try and much research aims to “predict” possible consequences of action using various methods. This implies a deterministic world view that relies primarily on experiences of the past to guide what is to come. This commonly results in risk-adversity, with paralyzing long-term consequences. Resilience, by contrast, recognizes that bigger risk events are inherently difficult to predict and suggests steps to prepare for them. Risk, strategy, sustainability, and opportunity all need to combine to “imagine the possible” and anticipate social, political, economic, and environmental changes. Re-orienting conversations around “resilience” better captures desirable outcome states. “Be Prepared” applies to organizations perhaps even more than to people.

By recognizing the importance of perspective and context, and being open to questions about what changes in both might imply, one can engage in a reflective conversation to generate the questions through which resilience will be created.
This conference will explore how these processes unfold, and how they may be steered.

Highlights of the Conference

  • Sunday August 6, the pre-conference workshop offers an introduction to systems, cybernetics, and cognition.
  • Monday August 7, our opening theme is process. John Vargo of the Resilient Organizations research group in New Zealand will speak on Resilience, Environment, and Us and the collective group will work on defining resilience and creating a common vocabulary to use throughout the conference. In the afternoon, Richard Knowles will lead a workshop: Improving Your Organization Through Conversation And Planning Process. He will be citing examples of a factory and a school in Malaysia.
  • Tuesday August 8, the theme shifts to reflexivity. After a discussion of what resilience implies for ethics, Donald Hoffman of UC Irvine will speak on How We Think We Think. This will be followed by the public launch of the second edition of the Collected Works of Warren McCulloch and a talk by Pille Bunnell on The Soul of Resilience.
  • Wednesday August 8 we shift the theme to adding rigor. Paul Pangaro will open the day with a talk on Design of Conversations for Resilience and the afternoon features a talk by Mitchell Waldrop on Resilience in Systems Large, Small, Simple, Complicated, and Complex.
  • Thursday August 9 we shift to applications. David Chandler of the University of Westminster in the UK will speak on Resilience, Governance, and Ethics and as a group we will begin to articulate how our understanding of resilience impacts us, our organizations and communities. Our conference dinner will feature a discussion of work life balance and what that means for personal resilience.
  • Friday and Saturday we return the theme to reflexivity. A Group led by Bill Seaman and Joseph Chuma will present Ranulph Glanville: Opening up Black Boxes. The noted organizational theorist David Hurst will speak on What Resilience Means to an Organization and we will continue our efforts to produce a set of meaningful takeaways both for attendees and the public at large.

Who Should Attend?

  • Business, organization, and academic leaders of all ranks concerned with resilience in their organization. You will gain new insight and access to new tools to help with planning, strategy, innovation, marketing, and human resources.
  • Designers, design thinkers, design professionals – those concerned with how resilience factors into the processes and outcomes of design.
  • Scientists concerned with how we discuss the notion of resilience. You will gain a better understanding of the vocabulary and concepts non-scientists use when discussing preparedness. In an age of ever increasing scrutiny and skepticism, regarding science budgetary requests it is increasingly critical to relate to the layman’s viewpoint.
  • Individuals concerned with personal resilience and growth.
  • Anyone concerned with the application of cybernetic concepts and strategies.
  • Ethicists who will appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with an interdisciplinary set of professionals in business and academia.
  • Social scientists with an interest in how cognition and communication affect resilience, including understanding tradeoffs between optimization, efficiency, and preparedness.
  • Individuals who recognize that resilience involves tradeoffs. You will gain insight into how to discuss those tradeoffs and their implications.

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