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The Strategic Management of Cosmology Episodes: From Reliability Principles to Resilience Processes

Track: Leadership

Keywords: Anticipating, Sense-losing, Improvising, Sense-remaking, Renewing

Weick and Sutcliffe (2001, 2011, 2015) have shifted strategic management discussions away from the discipline’s traditional focus on cost leadership strategies and product differentiation strategies toward what might be considered a third generic strategy -- high reliability strategies. Weick and Sutcliffe propose five reliability principles, most recently summarized as follows: High reliability organizations “pay more attention to failures than success, avoid simplicity rather than cultivate it, are just as sensitive to operations as they are to strategy, organize for resilience rather than anticipation, and allow decisions to migrate to experts wherever they are located” (Weick 2016, p. 6). These reliability principles are abbreviated by Weick and Sutcliffe (2015) as “FSORE” – failure, simplicity, operations, resilience, and expertise. Over the last six years, in our studies of the Haiti earthquake of 2010, the deployment of “human terrain teams” to Afghanistan from 2007-2015, and survivors of extreme sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we have found it helpful to reframe Weick and Sutcliffe’s five reliability principles as a sequence of five complementary resilience processes, which we abbreviate as “FERSO” – failure, expertise, resilience, simplicity, and operations. In our work on trauma studies and resilience leadership, we have found it helpful to reframe “preoccupation with failure” as anticipation, “deference to expertise” as sense-losing, “commitment to resilience” as improvisation, “reluctance to simplify” as sense-remaking, and “sensitivity to operations” as renewing. Reframing the five reliability principles as a sequence of five resilience processes increases the probability that leaders will effectively, strategically, and successfully manage cosmology episodes.


James Orton -
Loyola University Maryland

Kari O'Grady - 
Loyola University Maryland

Tara Carleton - 
Loyola University Maryland

Will Flythe - 
Loyola University Maryland

Jessica Haas - 
Loyola University Maryland

Sondra Matter - 
Loyola University Maryland

Theresa Robertson - 
Loyola University Maryland

Carol Stewart - 
Loyola University Maryland


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