Stability is the ability of a system, organization, or individual to maintain its current state or condition despite external pressures or challenges. This does not necessarily mean that change does not occur, but rather that any changes are gradual and predictable, rather than sudden and disruptive. Stability is often seen as a positive trait, as it allows individuals and organizations to plan and adapt to change in a controlled and orderly manner. However, too much stability can also be a negative, as it can prevent organizations from adapting to changing market conditions and staying competitive. Here are some examples.
Science & Engineering
In science and engineering, stability denotes a system that is in equilibrium that is able to return to equilibrium when disturbed. For example, a building that stands upward resisting the forces of gravity is in equilibrium. Such a building may flex to disturbances such as wind and earthquakes but will return to equilibrium whereby it is relatively motionless.
People create social stability with systems such as a society. For example, a political system that provides a somewhat stable way to decide what to do as a group.
Culture is the understanding that emerges with the shared experience of groups. Unlike systems, culture is spontaneous and unplanned. Old cultures such as traditional cultures and national cultures can be viewed as stabilizing influences that provide some consistency to life over many generations. For example, a holiday or pastime that provides experiences that are familiar to multiple generations of a family.
Institutions are enduring features of a society that provide stability and consistency. Families are institutions as are governments. It is also common for profit seeking firms such as a newspaper company and non-profits such as a charity to be viewed as institutions.
Peace is the capacity of nations to use diplomacy to resolve differences without falling into a state of conflict and war. War can be viewed as total social instability.
Civility is respect for the systems and norms set forth by a society to resolve disputes. This is the basis for the domestic stability of a nation. For example, using the law and political system to try to address something you view as unjust.
Resilience is the capacity to endure stress. For example, a city that is prone to earthquakes and hurricanes that has building codes and infrastructure that mitigate the risk of these events.
Personal resilience is the capacity of a person to persevere in the face of the inevitable challenges that life presents. For example, an employee who can’t be derailed or distracted by negative office politics.
Information is the opposite of uncertainty such that it tends to increase stability. For example, a student who learns a great deal about a university program and related professions before choosing a major may be less likely to change their major later.
Risk avoidance is the process of avoiding uncertainty. As all opportunity involves some uncertainty, this can involve overly cautious choices that increase short term stability but decrease long term stability. For example, a homeowner who avoids renovations on an aging home because dealing with contractors feels like a risk. This may create significant long term instability such as serious livability issues with their home.
Calculated Risk Taking
Taking unintelligent or unmanaged risks creates instability. However, calculated risk taking is the basis for long term stability. For example, small social risks such as introducing to someone may pay large dividends in terms of future friendships, career and family.
Group harmony is a society, culture, organization or social group that values harmony between its members above all else. Organizations and societies that value harmony tend to lack creativity due to a lack of creative tension. In fact, such groups are likely to make fully irrational decisions simply for the sake of conflict avoidance. This essentially sacrifices all future stability for short term social stability.
The status quo is the way that things have been in the past. Stability doesn’t mean that you don’t change. In fact, as the world constantly changes standing still is likely to be quite unstable. Nevertheless, people have a tendency to defend the status quo. This may serve stability where it prevents radical change for the purpose of radical change. However, irrational defense of the status quo can lead to stagnation, decline or neglect serious risks.