The cross-scale resilience model was developed in ecology to explain the emergence of resilience from the distribution of ecological functions within and across scales, and as a tool to assess resilience. We propose that the model and the underlying discontinuity hypothesis are relevant to other complex adaptive systems, and can be used to identify and track changes in system parameters related to resilience. We explain the theory behind the cross-scale resilience model, review the cases where it has been applied to non-ecological systems, and discuss some examples of social-ecological, archaeological/ anthropological, and economic systems where a cross-scale resilience analysis could add a quantitative dimension to our current understanding of system dynamics and resilience. We argue that the scaling and diversity parameters suitable for a resilience analysis of ecological systems are appropriate for a broad suite of systems where non-normative quantitative assessments of resilience are desired. Our planet is currently characterized by fast environmental and social change, and the cross-scale resilience model has the potential to quantify resilience across many types of complex adaptive systems.