IDEAS Factory - Curative Resilience Scoping Study

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Computer Science


Organisations and communities have a purpose (the organisation's may be more specific than the community's) - that is what defines them; what makes them unique. The way successful ones are structured and organised, how resources are deployed and what activities they undertake are all focused on achieving that purpose.Resilience is not a purpose of an organisation or community per se, but successful organisations will have relevant functions and features, the capability, to be resilient. However, it is difficult to identify those functions and features of an organisation that contribute to resilience such that one can extract them to produce a generalised model of resilience for broad applicability.The living being, the biomedical metaphor, is capable of many things and can address a multiplicity of purposes, often simultaneously. It is also resilient, It has no essential purpose unless directed consciously. We propose to undertake a Scoping Study to explore the development of a blueprint (an original plan or prototype that influences subsequent design or practice [1]) for resilience using the biomedical metaphor that organisations and communities can use to assess their need to adapt or develop to become resilient. Social systems are innately complex, with social agents enmeshed in a web of connections with one another and, through a variety of adaptive processes, they must successfully navigate through their world [2]. Complex adaptive social systems are often modelled to help understand the behaviour of both the agents within the systems and the system themselves [2]. Behaviour, being the outcome, is difficult to predetermine and a challenge of model building is to include the appropriate agent behaviour to incorporate that results in a specific behaviour such as resilience within the context of a set of human social systems that include citizens, communities and organisations.Using other system methods to explore an essentially resilient, complex adaptive system, such as the human being, may provide insight into the necessary lower-level components, and the behavioural rules of those components, such that a specific model can be developed and validated. Of the range of systems methods, three have a particular suitability for this stage: Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), the Viable Systems Model (VSM) and System Dynamics (SD). Individually the methods help provide insight into complex human activity systems from different perspectives and record the related mental models and consensus of those involved to provide a basis for discourse on the findings. However, we assert that when used together even greater coherence and insight can be gained. Exploring this will be an additional benefit from the scoping study.To evaluate the developed blueprint and determine further research viability, we will undertake a period of consultation, and hold a 2-day workshop with a broad set of communities, to assess the usability and benefits of the blueprint sufficient to justify and define a full research programme that extends the research work to include simulation.[1]Collins English Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986, HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003[2] Miller, J. H. and Page, S. E., Complex Adaptive Systems; an introduction to computational models, Princeton University Press, 2007

Planned Impact

This project is a Scoping Study; consequently the impact on the public sector, commercial private sector, third sector or the wider public in general will not be as great as the impact from a full follow-on project. We see the main beneficiaries being government and public sector planners and policy makers, and organisations involved in civil contingency. The project is unlikely to have a major impact on the commercial private sector, as they will not be able to exploit the blueprint in its entirety. We do, however, intend to involve the commercial private sector in the development of the blueprint to ensure its wider applicability. These organisations are more likely to be vendors and consultancy-style organisations who will exploit the results in their own products and services. We believe that the literature review and subsequent blueprint of resilience by itself will have a major benefit to CNI, CPNI, Civil Contingencies Secretariat, emergency planners and first responders. A number of public sector organisations were present at the NxtGen sandpit and are aware of our ideas. At this stage of a scoping study it is not possible to present with confidence well-defined results. Where we have longer-standing links, we have discussed the proposed project and have received considerable interest. These include: NHS South West Strategic Health Authority; a policy developer at CESG; the Deputy Joint Regional Liaison Officer (DJRLO) 43 Brigade, and through him to Severn Trent Water. The PI and Co-Is intend to visit interested parties to present our work as it develops and to solicit their input; this will include the sandpit attendees such as CPNI, NaCTSO, Civil Contingencies Secretariat and BT. We will hold a two-day workshop to bring interested parties together to formally present our draft findings and update the blueprint accordingly. Following discussion with the Technology Strategy Board, we plan to access their Digital Britain testbed community. Though this test bed is developed to allow businesses and users to explore the effects of alternative network operating models, business models and service platforms, we wish to assess the benefits of the blueprint with a selection from the testbed community. To ensure good communication, we will maintain a website for the scoping study, and also intend to exploit the knowledgebase being developed by Cardiff School of Computer Science as part of the EPSRC-funded EFFEKT project (EP/G034540/1). The project team will undertake the impact activities. In addition, Cardiff School of Computer Science will provide some website technical and authoring support as well as the knowledgebase. The PI and Co-Is will travel to meet with relevant public sector and commercial private sector organisations. John Wort has offered his support to facilitate engagement with Gloucester Police and the local resilience community there. The PI will engage with The Open Group and the Jericho Forum.


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Description Resilience is not a purpose of an organisation, community or system per se, but successful organisations and systems will have relevant functions and features, the capability, to be resilient. However, it is difficult to identify those functions and features of an organisation or a system that contribute to resilience such that one can extract them to produce a generalized model of resilience for broad applicability.

The CuReSS Project has investigated the feasibility of using the metaphor of the human body as a resilient system to explore what patterns of activity enable its resilience. These have included the development of a conceptual model of resilience using Soft Systems Methodology and incorporating multiple definitions such that activities relevant to an organisation that wishes to be resilient can be identified, and also to provide a framework for research. Insults to the human body, such as the acclimatization achieved when moving from living in N W Europe to living in the Middle East, were described in order to explore how the human body responds. Secondary effects of the body's response to insults, which in themselves became insults the body had to deal with, were identified. This understanding was captured using system dynamics influence diagrams to identify the causal loops and patterns of response and through the building of dependency models. We explored the use of Beer's Viable Systems Model to capture the decision-making and communication patterns. Finally, we built on work by Peppard and Ward to describe the relationships between capability and competences.

A full-day consultation exercise was held with a number of representatives from academia, industry and government departments. The use of the bio-medical metaphor was seen as positive: the advantages included its familiarity to more people; easier to understand and, therefore a good starting point; it is intuitive and works well to communicate ideas to multiple stakeholders; it has the requisite complexity, with known responses/adaptations; important similarities - e.g., stabilization, constant, stochastic threats, interaction between agents (cells). Disadvantages included not comparing like with like; adaptation rather than radical change oriented, suggests you have to control responses with very narrow margins; no clear matching for every single item - may just be a rough metaphor.

A subsidiary consideration within the project was the development of an approach to developing an agreed set of systems methods to be used collaboratively to provide insight into the biomedical metaphor such that we could develop the blueprint. The patterns identified appeared each to support a different dimension of thinking about the model of resilience: positioning of parts of the organisation, coordination; means and ends; depth to surface (ability to see deeper orders and see patterns and relationships); and the dynamic whole "constellation of parts".

The focus of the project was to consider the improvement of resilience to human activity systems such as enterprises. The approach and set of methods identified is being considered to enhance community resilience to crime and in better understanding the causal links and dependencies between the various 'systems' of the body, thus bringing together homeostasis and resilience. Taking such a systems view is seen as a significant benefit to enhance research work already being undertaken. Additionally, however, it is believed that the framework for resilience, and the Blueprint, can be exploited to enhance resilience in large systems engineering projects.
Exploitation Route We are exploring its contribution to the development of resilient systems and resilient organisations. This is being applied in the defence context. Four conference papers have been published (CSER and IEEE SysCon).

The findings are contributing to teaching Sytems Thinking to Systems Engineers, Programme and Project Managers and researchers.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy,Transport

Description Continuing development of ideas and use of multiple methods to improve the resilience of systems. Incorporation of concepts into teaching. Development of practitioners in Govt departments who then apply them in the resolution of real-world national issues and development of national policy. Some students have worked on other examples and taken the output into other sectors such as healthcare. Consequently, there is an element of paying forward where we will never know the impact.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

Title Contribution to a PhD study on combining multiple Systems Thinking Methods 
Description The resilience model is being used to provide a research context, and the Systems thinking methods included in CURESS, and the CURESS findings are en essential starting point for further research in Systems Thinking. Within the CURESS project we applied SSM, System Dynamics causal lop models and the principles of the Viable Systems Model and Dependency Modelling. The PhD research is taking this a further step by developing artifacts from each method on the same case study to assess the degree of interoperabiity of the methods. Currently work has only been undertaken on combining methods, but none has been undertaken in the exchange of artifacts that I can find. The combining framework is based on Andral Angyal's work in the 1930s/40s where he developed a systems approach to thinking about the human body in order to develop a theoretical underpinning to Psychiatry. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The initial findings will be published later in 2019. The expected impact will be model/methods that improves the resilience of organisations