Professor Tony Bendell

Building Anti-Fragile Organisations
Professor Tony Bendell, MD, Services Limited, UK

Human organisations and systems fail continually –with increasing frequency and magnitude – in our globalised, joined‐up world. The cost, in terms of wasted resources and human effort and motivation, is enormous.

The financial crisis of 2007/08 was a textbook example of this sort of failure, and of our inability to predict such catastrophic events. We might think, after the fact, that we could have or should have seen it coming – but such is the nature of these “black swans”.
But other organisational and system failures occur continuously, increasingly involving iconic organisations. Failures of governance, leadership, strategy, operations, supply chains, the technology base and market demand all have their tole.

The concept of Anti-Fragility is due to Nassim Taleb, author of the “Black Swan”. Anti-fragility is more than mere robustness or resilience, since robust or resilient systems have a level of implicit strength, so merely survive and wait for something stronger than them to come along and overpower them. In contrast, Anti-Fragile systems get stronger from being stressed, as I do when I exercise.

So, how can we take stock of the fragilities within our organisations, and redesign and manage our organisations efficiently and effectively to reduce fragility and increase considerably anti-fragility?

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