10 commandments for resilient design

10 commandments for resilient design

Aug 8th, 2017

The 10 commandments for resilient design we propose below are based on risk management concepts. They are a complement to the resilient design principles delivered by the Resilient Design Institute.

10 commandments for resilient design

Definition of resilience

Resilience definition is the ability to recover after an accident, the ability to withstand disruption and rebound quickly. In other words resilience is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption.

Resilient design is the result of an intentional effort geared toward enhancing buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions resilience to natural and man-made hazards and disturbances. These may include sudden or long-term changes induced by climate changes, for example, but not limited to:

  • sea level rise,
  • heat waves,
  • regional drought, and
  • Mass forest fire.

10 commandments for resilient design

In this section we go through 10 commandments for resilient design which are based on our world-wide experience of risk-based decision making in risk mitigation and sustainability enhancement.

1. Thou shall never rely on the properties of a single material/ component

  • Why: By relying on one single material’s properties you expose your project to “sudden failures” due to quality variability, supplier disruptions, etc.
  • How to: Design should include various lines of defense, based on different materials/components. Redundancy based on same material/components may be an illusion due to “Common Cause Failure

2. Thou shall ensure that redundancies are true

  • Why: False (perceived, but untrue) redundancies give a false sense of safety and control over the system.
  • How to: Avoid Common Cause Failure of material/components

3. Thou shall avoid at all cost fragile failures

  • Why: Fragile failures are difficult to monitor, prepare for and can catch anyone by surprise
  • How to: Include in your design extra links (hyper-static structures, for example), sacrificial elements that will stress before the vital ones and work as early indicators of distress, elements that will delay the main failure.

4. Thou shall promote ductile failures

  • Why: Ductile failures absorb massive amounts of energy and slow propagation before final failure occurs, so they are safer than brittle or sudden ones.
  • How to: Include ductile materials in your design, ductile links, energy absorbing devices and shapes.

5. Thou shall ensure that failure does not propagate

  • Why: Propagation of failure (domino effect, inter-dependencies) magnifies consequences and makes it very difficult to resume operations
  • How to: Insert controls that segment your system, avoid propagation, so as to maintain dominos effects as short as possible

6. Thou shall limit and control inter-dependencies

  • Why: Propagation may occur without failure, because of proximity (geographic inter-dependency), for example: chemical spill from a neighboring process generates a stoppage)
  • How to: Study very carefully the holistic 360-degrees environment. Moreover, develop scenarios using threat-to/threat from in your Risk Assessment.

7. Thou shall understand your system and keep an eye on its evolution

  • Why: Systems can fail due to Threats to/Treats from impacts. It is important to understand the functional relationship of the system and their evolution.
  • How to: Wet-ware, software, hardware and energy, resources flows need to be understood and taken into account in holistic, convergent risk assessment.

8. Thou shall avoid sliding into normalization of deviance

  • Why: Near misses can be a tell-tale sign of hazardous normalization of deviance.
  • How to: Near misses and prior losses should be recorded and carefully analyzed to understand what and how it happened, so as to benefit from lesson learned.

9. Thou shall understand the limits of what you know and what you do not know you do not know

  • Why: As future may significantly diverge from the past, identifying new threats and unplanned scenarios is paramount.
  • How to: List your assumption and hypothesis while considering Threat from/Threat to scenarios and resulting failures in the Risk Assessment. In fact, this will help understanding if mitigation is possible or strategic shifts are necessary.

10. Thou shall adapt your design and maintain you systems

  • Why: Due to future conditions divergence, system alterations will be necessary.
  • How toInformation has to flow through evolution, so that lesson learned pass to future designers. Moreover, keep a way for anyone in the chain of command to be able to propose a solution which should be openly discussed with key stakeholders.

Contact us to get support in enhancing your project’s or operations’ resilience

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Category: Risk analysis, Risk management

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