Examining how organizational systems have responded to external jolts (threats, crises, etc.) is a useful precursor to large-scale organizational development projects. The shape of adaptability is introduced as a sensitizing concept for facilitating such analyses. The suggested elements of shape consist of three critical performance levels ([1] at the time of the jolt; [2] at the lowest point after any fall off in performance; and [3] its recovery level), and three time periods ([1] how long the organization is able to resist a fall off in performance [Resistance]; [2] how long it takes the organization to recover to its original performance level after a fall off [Resilience]; and [3] how long its recovery level lasts before decaying [Retention]). The success of the FAA's passenger screening system in defending against hijackings is used as a vehicle for discussion.

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