The Antifragile Business

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Everything in the world has a relationship with volatility.

Fragile things suffer from it. Mugs are fragile. When you drop one, it shatters. Robust things resist volatility. Earthquake proof high-rises absorb seismic energy. Antifragile things profit from volatility. When bones break, they heal stronger.

Despite antifragility being the defining characteristic of our universe, one that governs our biology, society, politics, economy and culture, we have failed to recognise its importance. So much so, we did not even have a name for it until Nicholas Nassim Taleb came along.

This has led to the common conception that fragility’s opposite is resilience. It’s not. The opposite of things that break when dropped isn’t things that don’t break. It’s things that get stronger. In other words, by optimising for resilience in business, we are missing a huge opportunity.

Resilience is about surviving chaos. Antifragility is about thriving. Ask any founder which outcome they’d prefer, and the answer is obvious. By structuring our lives and businesses around antifragility, we can succeed where others fail.

Antifragile things profit from disorder. And since the world of business tends to be chaotic, it makes sense for us to build antifragile companies.

Not all companies are antifragile. But they should be.

Edward Rhys