How do you integrate five of the resilience models that I have used in Integral City?  How can they help us understand how to respond, repair and restore the city as a living system in disasters like we have seen this year in Brisbane, Christchurch and Sendai?

Integral City(p. 43)  illustrates the four stages of the resilience cycle as they progress through different degrees of connectedness and potential. It seems to me that each author I have cited in the book and below (Adizes, Bloom, Eoyang, Graves and Holling)  has used a 4 stage cycle and because these are applied at different scales of the human system, they help us understand the dynamics of the city — both in good times and in disasters.  Essentially these five resilience cycles are embedded in one another.

(Note this model illustrates the 4 stages in a 4 quadrant model that is different than the Integral 4 quadrants. It is especially important to notice it is a CYCLE model that appears to apply to all living systems. In terms of the Integral Model you can imagine the Integral Model progressing through each of these stages as it develops or evolves.  I have mapped the authors and their cycle description in the two images below – one a Legend and the other a “stacked” map of the cycles.)

Systems Cycles Legend    Resilience Cycles Co-Exist in the City

In order to illustrate this I am going to use the city of Sendai Japan because the cycles are all in very high activation and differentiation at the moment.  I don’t know much about Sendai except through the news, and I offer this with the greatest respect of the difficulties they face at this time.(I hope this is helpful to see the dynamics of systems in the city, in play before our eyes. On many occasions they are hidden because the change states are not changing much – but this is a very vivid example.)

Holling describes the stages of an ecosystem. (He uses the Panarchy reslience model that he co-created).
Sendai is a coastal city, whose ecosystem was at a steady state Conservation stage. The earthquake/tsunami plunged it catastrophically into a Release stage where all the elements of the ecosystem are still connected but no longer ordered. As it responds to the emergency it will attempt to move from the Release stage into the Reorganization stage where the elements will actually be reorganized to deliver higher potential with new systems.
Bloom describes the stages of species systems (for bees and I have borrowed it for Humans).
The Human Species who lived in Sendai were probably also at a steady state of Conformity Enforcement where daily life was governed and moderated by supportive bureaucracies and agencies. After the disaster it was forced out of Conformity into the first stages of Diversity Generation (DG) just to stay alive. We are already starting to see DG move from an entry stage into a more mature stage as so much emergency response kicks into gear.
Eoyang describes the stages of self-organizing sectors or organizations.
Within Sendai let us imagine that there was a retail sector selling electronic devices (handhelds etc.). It was not doing so well before the tsunami – so it was already in a Disconnected stage. After the tsunami there was nothing left of the business neighbourhood, office buildings, the employees or most of the customers. So this retail sector has shifted into a stage of chaos.
Adizes describes the stages that single organizations go through as they mature.
Within Sendai let us imagine there was a Startup Company that was selling new nutraceuticals including Iodine tablets (used for radiation remediation). The demand for its emergency supply nutraceuticals and radiation skyrockets and it was located on high ground and survives the tsunami. It must move from a startup phase into heavy production to meet the demand.

Graves and Beck describe the stages of change that individuals go through (these have sounds that I often illustrate when I am speaking or lecturing – alpha is the happy humhmmhmm; beta – is the uhohuhoh something is changing; gamma is the “oh shit – there is no way back”; and delta is “wow, a clear day has dawned; new alpha is the return to happy humhmmhmm but at a new level of capacity because of the learning that has happened through progressing through each stage.
In Sendai let us say there was a woman who had just picked up her child from school (alpha). The tsunami roars in on her way home (plunging her thru beta right to gamma). Somehow she and her child miraculously get swept to high ground – she has a Delta relief to have survived. But when when she looks around her and none of her house, family, neighbours survived she realizes that life has changed forever (back to gamma).
(Note that in the resilience model I have made the Graves stages of change double barrelled eg. alpha-beta etc. to better represent the ranges that would occur in each of the Resilience quadrants.)


What the above attempts to illustrate is that the Relience framework has been discovered and modelled at each level of scale of a living system by different researchers. All the cycles are ongoing – but at different different speeds. It appears that the Panarchy model illustrates the upshifts and downshifts in the cycles much the same way as Spiral Dynamics describes the vertical dimension of the Integral Model.

If any readers are familiar with Weisboard’s “Discovering Common Ground” or “Productive Workplaces Revisited”  he actually identifies the appropriate response to support systems at each stage of the cycle. These are instructive to consider when conditions are stable in a city.  But in order for Sendai (and its sibling cities who have been affected by disaster) to restabililze what it needs most now is attention to the spiral of complexities through which cities evolve and out of which resilience emerges.

Sendai needs the basics of life (people are winuclear thout food and shelter); family relocation and support systems (they have been torn apart – the sense of belonging has been traumatized); a focus for energy and healthy tolerance of risk (to align warrior spirits and release the powerful blockages of grief); restoration of order and authority for dependable city infrastructures (obliterated and/or multiply threatened); strategies for successful economic results (to re-establish economies and social systems) ; caring and sharing across cultures and/or castes (to bridge cultural silos, stovepipes and solitudes which have emerged from the disaster. And all of this requires systems thinking (to align and re-align attention to all of the needs concurrently demanding attention) and a worldcentric consciousness (that embraces the intensity of immediate needs and the evolutionary spirit of our ever-evolving resilience cycles).

The culture of the Japanese seems to have developed a remarkable resilience (noted by many) because of its life conditions which has created a history of surviving natural disasters. They are providing a model for other cities around the world to learn how to work together and re-build the resilience systems that support people at all levels of scale, even under the most challenging conditions.  Keeping both the resilience cycles and the spiral of needs in view, the world can be effective in offering assistance to help restore Japaneses cities to their full sense of wellbeing over the months and years ahead.

Adizes, I. (1999). Managing Corporate Lifecycles. Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall Press.

Beck, D., & Cowan, C. (1996). Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Bloom, H. (2000). The Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century. New York: John Wiley & Son Inc.

Eoyang, G., & Olson, E. (2001). Facilitating Organization Change: Lessons from Complexity Science. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Graves, C. (2005). The Never Ending Quest: A Treatise on an Emergent Cyclical Conception of Adult Behavioral Systems and Their Development. Santa Barbara, CA: ECLET Publishing.

Gunderson, L. C., & Holling, C. S. (Eds.). (2002). Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems Washington, DC: Island Press.

Hamilton, M. (2008). Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive. Gabriola Island BC: New Society Publishers.

Weisbord, M. R. (2004). Productive Workplaces Revisited: Dignity, Meaning and Community in the 21st Century. San Francisco,: Jossey-Bass.

Weisbord, M. R., et al. (1992). Discovering Common Ground: How Future Search Conferences Bring People Together …. San Francisco,: Berrett-Koehler.