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Designing for Reliability vs Engineering Resilience

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

Engineers are immensely good with reliability. So who owns the job of Engineering Resilience?


Designing for Reliability ensures minimal variability in performance; Focuses on achieving stability.

Engineering Resilience ensures quick recovery upon disruption; Accepts instability and focuses on building resourcefulness.


We have all sorts of validated standards for achieving reliability. How robust are the current practices for resilience?

Designing for Reliability deals with high probability, known events and risks.

Engineering Resilience deals with low probability, often unknown, extreme or prolonged events.

EFFORT We definitely want things to just work. How uncomfortable is it to think about our response to disruptions?

Designing for Reliability is about designing, operating and maintaining the system to provide a stable flow of services; Things just work.

Engineering Resilience, on top of reliability, is also about preparing for, operating through and recovering from disruptions to services.

COST We can handle the most intense cost-benefit analysis. Are we able to invest in benefits that are not as quantifiable?

Designing for Reliability involves rigorous cost-benefit decisions.

Engineering Resilience involves complex investment decision.

SYSTEMS We can design for systems that we can predict & control. Can we also lead & orchestrate external systems & stakeholders that are critical to the mission?

Designing for Reliability involves parameters and internal systems that are known and predictable.

Engineering Resilience can and often involve external systems with divergent goals playing key roles.

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