In last week’s TomorrowToday Tuesday Insights we introduced the concept of antifragility: a state of being where you grow stronger during disruption and gain from chaos and disorder. It’s more than resilience and adaptability, and it’s what we should all be aiming to cultivate in 2023. You can read the explanation below or watch a short video explanation here.
The question, of course, is HOW. How do we build this elusive antifragility into ourselves, our people, and our organisations?
There are at least three essential starting points to build antifragility, maybe easily remembered as the “head, heart and hands”:
1. HEAD: Upgrade our thinking and strategic imagination
Our brains are programmed to see the world as it currently is and struggle to imagine much more than incremental changes to our current reality. That’s why big disruptors like Covid come as such a shock. And yet, we are also capable of adapting – just like we did during Covid. The trick then is to train our brains to anticipate bigger changes and be prepared for more disruption. We call this “strategic imagination”, and the more we can help our people to develop it, the more innovative and adaptable they will be, and the more resilient their response to change when it happens.
TO DO: Upgrade strategic imagination by including “what if” thinking sessions in your weekly team meetings. This is just a few minutes where you invite your team to imagine a very different future – sometimes even ridiculously so – and think what they would do if was a reality. We produce a weekly “Throwforward Thursday” video to spark your imagination if you don’t feel you have much of one yourself – see our archive here:
TO READ: To take this further, we highly recommend Jane McGonigal’s “Imaginable”. (Also note that Graeme Codrington and Keith Coats are working on a book for release in Q2 2023, called “Thinking Like a Futurist” – keep an eye out for it.)
2. HEART: Upgrade our support for our people and focus on peak performance
Companies that have been able to survive Covid – maybe even surprising themselves with their results and productivity – need to be honest about the price their people have paid to do this: we are exhausted. If we don’t look after our people, they are going to collapse. Now, I don’t want to give your people permission to be lazy, but we need to find ways to help them manage “peak performance”. This is language borrowed from professional sports, where you need players to give their very best, all-out effort for key periods of time, but then you also help them to recover, refresh and review and then prepare for the next all-out engagement. We cannot expect people to give us “100% all of the time” and think this is sustainable – or even optimal in the moment. Exhausted people make mistakes, are less ethical, are less resilient, agile, and innovative. Put another way, if you just keep pushing for productivity and activity, you will not get any of the stuff you know to be vital for your long-term success.
TO DO: Upgrade peak performance by building excess capacity into your systems. Give people opportunities to have slow periods. Take time for reflection and review. Give exhausted staff time to recover.
3. HANDS: Upgrade our willingness to properly experiment
One of the most important things we can actually DO to build antifragility into our systems is to ensure that we build a culture of experimentation. This is more than having a few interesting side-projects on the go. This is about having daily and weekly mini-tests of new ideas, new approaches, tweaks, and adjustments. This is about giving something a go before we either say “no” or make it a new company-wide policy. This is about constantly A-B testing everything we can. Not because we have some new great ideas, but rather so that we build a culture where constant change and regular upgrades feel normal.
Do this… and more…
The above three starting points are merely ideas to get you started. If you’d like more insights and access to our ongoing research into antifragility and how you can set your organisation and team up for success in 2023, please contact us or just reply to this and let me know you’d like to chat.
Author of today’s tip, Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, specializing in the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change.
For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.