When things go wrong, how do we bounce back?

That’s the beautiful question at the heart of Andrew Zolli’s new book “Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back”

Written with co-author Ann Marie Healy, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back looks at what happens when companies, communities or complex systems (such as our financial system) encounter unforeseen shocks and disruptions? What enables them to recover instead of falling apart?

This is a critical question in today’s increasingly volatile and interconnected world. And, as one might suspect, there’s no simple answer, but Zolli’s book—which includes a wide range of stories and examples of resilience at work, such as the tale of how a small bank in Mississippi recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina—identifies a number of key principles that seem to be central to resilience….

One key principle involves collaboration

In times of crisis, people must be able to work together and adapt quickly to shifting circumstances. This can spell trouble for more top-down, bureaucratic organizations where everyone is dependent on the higher-ups to tell them what to do.

Zolli also makes the case that in times of crisis, it often becomes important to go back to core principles. The book contends that when companies or systems (and, one might say, individuals, too) are dealing with extreme volatility, that’s when it’s more critical than ever to clarify your true purpose and values—and figure out how to re-affirm and re-apply them in changed circumstances.

This has an interesting connection to my own research—in which I’ve found that companies or organizations dealing with volatile, shifting conditions often must step back and ask “core” questions: What business are we really in? What do our customers really, truly need from us? What is our purpose?

How do we ask questions together in order to solve problems together?

I recently interviewed Zolli for the AMBQ book, and expect to continue talking to him again in days ahead. I’m particularly interested in his insights not only about resiliency, but also collaborative inquiry (how we ask questions together, in order to solve problems together). Zolli happens to be a great source on all of this because he is the executive director and chief curator of PopTech, the highly-regarded conference that brings together leading minds in business, science, and the global/social sector so that they can tackle major questions and challenges together.

In future posts, I’ll share more of Zolli’s views on collaborative inquiry and resiliency—two themes that involve questioning in a big way.

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About the Author

Innovation expert and questionologist Warren Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s foremost innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions, generate original ideas, and solve problems. He is the author or co-author of 12 books, including his three books about the power of questioning: BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM: Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry, THE BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead, and A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. Warren’s writing appears regularly in Psychology Today, Fast CompanyHarvard Business Review, and The New York Times. He lives in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts.

2 Beautiful Comments

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  1. Sid Ramnarace says:

    In this era of interconnectedness, collaborative inquiry and democratizing, how do the themes of individualism, solitary pursuit or personal challenge fit?

    Will we still celebrate taking the road less traveled? Will that still make all the difference?

    Thanks for the insightful posts; I’m looking forward to reading more on Zolli’s views on the topic!


  2. dan says:

    nice post


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