Become Anti-Fragile

fragileThat’s a new term I learned reading this post at Harvard Business Review: anti-fragile. There’s a whole book about it, apparently, and I like the premise:

Most successful organizations do not like volatility, randomness, uncertainty, disorder, errors, stressors, and chaos. Yet we are in a world where disruption and randomness are increasing. Organizations that gain from randomness will dominate, and organizations that are hurt by it will go away.

And I also like that one of the elements behind being “anti-fragile” is the ability for employees at all levels to solve problems:

Here is the working principle: Crises and major disruptions are not an abrupt departure from what anti-fragile organizations do continuously — solve problems. Rather than being controlled through rigid command structures, employees at all levels are trained every day to be quick problem-solvers. A disruption or crisis that might be crippling for some organizations is a challenge they already know how to handle.

The post author cites the experience of Toyota, who was hit very hard with a huge recall in 2009 and then the tsunami in 2010 that disrupted a lot of its supply chain. Now they are back on top, which the author believes is based the culture of problem solving that they have created. Of course, I think creating a culture of problem solvers is easier said than done and requires more decentralization than many organizations can stomach. But I side with the anti-fragile book: the organizations that gain from decentralization will dominate, and organizations that are hurt by it will go away.

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