Today’s insights are brought to you by my colleague and global futurist, Graeme Codrington.
Antifragility is about going beyond mere resilience or robustness. The term was coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2010 book “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder”, but it’s only now that the idea is gaining traction. People are tired of being resilient – getting knocked down, and getting back up again, and would rather learn how to be antifragile – gaining from disorder, growing stronger during tough times and thriving in chaos and uncertainty. Here is a summary of the key concepts and practical applications of antifragility for the workplace.
- Fragile: Objects or systems that are easily broken or disrupted by stressors, shocks, or volatility.
- Robust: Objects or systems that can withstand stressors, shocks, or volatility without significant damage.
- Antifragile: Objects or systems that not only withstand stressors, shocks, or volatility but also thrive, adapt, and improve from them.
In the context of the workplace, an antifragile team or organization is one that can adapt and grow stronger in the face of challenges, uncertainty, and change.
Cultivating Antifragility in the Workplace
1. Encourage a Culture of Learning and Adaptability
- Promote a growth mindset: Encourage employees to see challenges as opportunities for growth and development.
- Foster a culture of curiosity: Encourage questions, experimentation, and learning from mistakes.
- Provide opportunities for continuous learning: Offer training, workshops, and resources for employees to develop new skills and expand their knowledge.
2. Build Decentralized and Redundant Systems
- Delegate decision-making authority: Empower employees to make decisions and solve problems at their level.
- Create redundancy: Ensure multiple people have the necessary skills and knowledge to step in when someone is unavailable.
- Encourage cross-functional collaboration: Break down silos and promote teamwork across departments.
3. Embrace Diversity and Inclusivity
- Hire for diversity: Attract and retain employees with different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.
- Promote inclusivity: Ensure that all employees feel valued, respected, and heard.
- Leverage diverse perspectives: Encourage diverse viewpoints to foster creativity, innovation, and better decision-making.
4. Develop a Strong Feedback Culture
- Implement regular feedback cycles: Encourage employees to provide and receive feedback frequently.
- Promote transparency: Share information openly and honestly, including successes, failures, and areas for improvement.
- Use feedback for growth: Use feedback to identify opportunities for development and improvement.
- Conduct scenario planning: Identify potential challenges and develop contingency plans to address them.
- Encourage adaptability: Help employees develop the skills and mindset to adapt to new situations.
- Foster resilience: Support employees in developing coping strategies to deal with stress and uncertainty.
In an increasingly volatile and uncertain world, leaders must focus on cultivating antifragility in their teams and organizations. By encouraging a culture of learning, building decentralized systems, embracing diversity, developing a strong feedback culture, and planning for the unexpected, leaders can help their teams and organizations not only withstand adversity but also grow stronger and more capable in the face of challenges.
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.