The Manager's Musings

Article excerpt


Writing this segment on September 11, 2006--in the shadow of Manhattan's skyscrapers, five years after a deadly blow was dealt a city (and country) just beginning its workday--I can't help but reflect on how people bounce back from adversity. The human spirit has a kind of "comeback kid" imperative. We don't like giving up--whether as solitary individuals, such as Defoe's Robinson Crusoe or Hugo's Jean Valjean, or as communities, in the case of Londoners during the Blitz.

What I gleaned from this musing on my home town--where, five years ago, my son arrived at work a block away from the World Trade Center just moments after the first hijacked plane hit the north tower--were insights into how New Yorkers were demonstrating their resilience:

* Cleaning up and rebuilding

* Returning to mass transit and high-rise offices

* Patronizing downtown museums, restaurants, sports arenas, and Broadway theaters

* Reinvesting in real estate and small businesses up and down the island

* Smiling at and greeting each other--even out-of-towners--more than ever.

Resilient Bureaucracy

In similar fashion, our feature article by Al Siebert discusses practical guidelines drawn from the new field of "resiliency psychology," and looks at how the Forest Service and a metropolitan bus system bounced back from adversity. Next, Deniz Leuenberger links resiliency with sustainable development as she relates how Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Alberta, Canada; and other instrumentalities are responding to disturbances and attempting to meet formal sustainability goals. Sticking with this theme, Bill Trahant shares findings from a recent study showing how specific communications best practices significantly impact employee commitment, morale, and behavior and, consequently, sustainable government transformation. Moreover, Don Zauderer offers important insights from two extraordinary sports coaches that demonstrate how a philosophy of practice can generate team resilience and exceptional results. …