This is by far the most frequent question we’ve received and, we get it! We knew we were going to get this question and potentially turn a few people off over “Anti”.
So, why take that chance?
Because we believe our trend towards increasing fragility is poised to grow steadily worse, placing millions of people and organizations at great risk. Since our goal is to help people and organizations move AWAY from fragility, it makes sense to strive towards being the opposite of fragile. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb notes in his New York Times best-selling book, Antifragile, resilience is no more the opposite of fragile than neutral is the opposite of negative. Positive is the opposite of negative. Antifragile is the opposite of fragile.
The resilient resists shocks and stays the same, with no ROI for the time we’re “down”. It also includes the likelihood that our ability to keep bouncing back will eventually diminish. When we’re Antifragile, we benefit from shocks in life and grow when exposed to adversity. Antifragility leaves us better positioned to face the randomness, disorder, and stressors of life, which is critical given the increasing uncertainty and complexity of the world we live and work in.
Is AQ somehow “against” people who feel broken from pain or loss?
While not the most frequent question we get, this is the most important one to address.
The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT!
To varying degrees, we’re ALL fragile. At the core of our collective fragility is a common desire for comfort and ease over suffering and loss that’s become much more prevalent in modern society. And for all the success we’ve found in making life much more comfortable and safer for most, suffering and loss are still very much part of life for all.
The gap between expectation and reality is where fragility lies. Experiencing pain and suffering doesn’t mean you’re fragile, it means you’re human!
The most Antifragile people have generally suffered more than most and learned to thrive and grow from it.
how can an organization be antifragile?
The easy answer is that a company, or any organization for that matter, is ultimately the sum of its people.
Their many tendencies towards different fragile and Antifragile behaviors don’t impact the organization equally, with the behavior of its leaders having an outsized impact. And that’s where the answer becomes more nuanced.
Many of us ignore our tendencies towards fragility, only facing them when the cost of ignoring them becomes too great. If even then!
When leaders ignore their tendencies towards fragility, two troublesome trends typically occur:
• First, fragility can become part of the culture. People often emulate the behavior of their leaders, with some organizations going so far as to unknowingly screen for fragility in the hiring process because their leaders praise certain behaviors.
• The second troubling trend has to do with how decisions get made by leaders. Remember that the gap between our expectations, in terms of pain and suffering, and reality is where our fragility lies. That only gets amplified in organizations. Leaders of publicly traded companies often make strategically unsound decisions to avoid having to report poor quarterly results. Small business owners often drain their companies of much-needed cash when times are tough because they don’t want it to affect their lifestyle.
Antifragile leaders look inward and have mindsets that allow them to thrive and grow from adversity. Rather than spending time, energy, and precious resources on the volatility, randomness, disorder, and market conditions they can’t control, they create Antifragile cultures that grow stronger from adversity in order to overcome.