Resilience: System Performance

System Performance with respect to resilience

The ball represents the current state of the system, or the current configuration represented by the different states with same function and feedback, and is represented by system variables, e.g. the amounts of grass, trees, livestock, and people, un-employment, debt, production). The ball moves to its basin of attraction (solid black ball bottom of basin is the equilibrium state = attractor) but also move elsewhere via its trajectory due to inner dynamics. The trajectory caused by disturbance impacts the potential / performance of the system.



Within a basin of attraction the system configuration generates a certain theoretical potential/performance. From a resilience perspective the trajectory reaches maximum performance (100%) at the bottom of the basin which is considered equilibrium state.

Once consideration of System Performance is based ratio between actuality (actual performance) and potentiality of the defined system configuration within the basin of attraction. Therefore all system with proper governance can achieve maximum potentiality.


Potentiality: This is what system should be doing within the boundaries of existing system state (same function, structure, identity, and feedback’s) by developing its existing resources  and removing constraints or elevating constraints to maximize throughput , efficacy with respect to control and processes although still operating within the bounds of what is already known to be feasible.

Capability: This is what system should be doing  (still right now) with existing resources, under existing constraints, if there is management focus to eliminate waste, increase output resulting in improvements in productivity and efficiency.

Actuality: present way of managing the system, with existing resources, under existing constraints and exiting governance framework.

From resilience perspective, there following considerations apply:

  • Low internal efficacy in reaching potentiality impacts basin shape and may accelerate trajectory over tipping point to unfavorable basin while achieve high levels of potentiality will result in a more resilient basin which able to absorb disturbances
  • Disturbances impact performance whereby its system state is represented by trajectory that either crosses tipping point/threshold or recovers to its performance potential. Rapidity combined with basin shape will depend on system recovery. The greater the resilience in a particular system the more it can resist large or prolonged disturbances.  If resilience is low or weakened, then smaller or briefer disturbances can push the system into a different state whereby previous performance potential will not be recovered. Recovery of performance (return to previous regime) will require substantial resources.


Response and recovery of system performance has to be done within time frame that avoids reaching tipping point. Recovery should reverse trajectory towards its basin of attraction (equilibrium state or attractor) with effective governance and at the same time it may modify its basin of attraction due to system states changes. Disturbances are also fundamental to understand potential opportunities that allow system transformation to migrate to a more favorable regime (paradigm shift).