Anticipation and Systems Thinking: A Key to Resilient Systems


  • Gerhard Chroust Johannes Kepler Univ. Linz
  • Dennis Finlayson Consultant


anticipation, systems thinking, crisis, disaster, resilience, vulnerability, hazard, antifragility, response


Due to many factors (larger population, more dependency on technology, more human interference with the natural systems and their equilibrium, like in climate change, ...) the number and the severity of disasters seem to grow, exaggerated additionally by the media coverage. The basic and ultimate goal in case of disaster is to ensure an at least acceptable level of survival of the population together with keeping societal structure, infrastructure and environment as intact as possible. This implies that a system possesses to a certain extent stability and security with respect to endangering incidents. Three overall factors are significant in causing an incident: a hazard, a vulnerability of the system and an insufficient capacity to shield or recover from an incident. Two factors are essential in order to withstand an incident: Anticipation in order to provide adequate preparation and Systems Thinking to be able to understand the relationship of cybernetic loops within the components of the affected system.

In this paper we analyze the factors potentially leading to a system disturbance. We classifying these disturbances with respect to their severity, and we analyze the different reactions of a system, from fragility to resilience and robustness. By discussing the phases of disaster management (from Anticipation to Restauration) we identify the respective information needs.

Author Biography

Gerhard Chroust, Johannes Kepler Univ. Linz

Prof. emeritus, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria