Resilience and tolerances

Resilience is what happens when we’re able to move forward even when things don’t fit together the way we expect.

And tolerances are an engineer’s measurement of how well the parts meet spec. (The word ‘precision’ comes to mind). A 2018 Lexus is better than 1968 Camaro because every single part in the car fits together dramatically better. The tolerances are more narrow now.

One way to ensure that things work out the way you hope is to spend the time and money to ensure that every part, every form, every worker meets spec. Tighten your spec, increase precision and you’ll discover that systems become more reliable.

The other alternative is to embrace the fact that nothing is ever exactly on spec, and to build resilient systems.

You’ll probably find that while precision feels like the way forward, resilience, the ability to thrive when things go wrong, is a much safer bet.

The trap? Hoping for one, the other or both but not doing the work to make it likely. What will you do when it doesn’t work?

Neither resilience nor tolerances get better on their own.