Unlike fragile systems that break under stress or chaos and robust systems that resist and remain unchanged, antifragile systems thrive and improve under stress and chaos.
Let’s talk about Antifragility.
🤔 Why you should care about it
“Antifragility has a singular property of allowing us to deal with the unknown, to do things without understanding them— and do them well. Let me be more aggressive: we are largely better at doing than we are at thinking, thanks to antifragility. I’d rather be dumb and antifragile than extremely smart and fragile, any time.” - Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Lebanese-American essayist, in Antifragility.
As a CTO or technology leader, antifragility is essential for building resilient, adaptable, and innovative systems, which are critical for success in today's rapidly changing business environment. Embracing antifragility can help you build better systems, manage risks, and foster a culture of continuous improvement.
Reaction to unexpected events —> when an unexpected event occurs, fragile systems break, and robust systems remain unchanged.
Culture of risk aversion —> in traditional organisations, failure is often stigmatised and viewed as something to be avoided at all costs, leading to a culture of risk aversion.
Black Swan problem —> it’s impossible to calculate the risks of significant rare events and predict their occurrence.
Antifragility solves the challenges posed by uncertainty, complexity, and rapid change. By embracing antifragility, individuals and organisations can build better systems to handle unexpected events, learn from failure, and continuously improve.
For example, chaos engineering is a way to create antifragile software systems by intentionally introducing stress and uncertainty. It is a proactive approach to building resilience by identifying potential failure points before they become actual failures. By subjecting systems to controlled chaos, chaos engineering enables organisations to identify and address potential weaknesses, improving the system's overall antifragility and resilience.
💡 Key Concepts
Fragility —> refers to systems vulnerable to disruption and failure in the face of unexpected events or changes.
Robustness —> refers to the ability of a system or organisation to resist stress and remain unchanged.
Randomness —> refers to the inherent unpredictability and uncertainty of the world around us.
"Antifragility does not apply in all contexts." —> Antifragility is a framework for building resilience and adaptability in complex and uncertain environments. In other environments where failure is not an option (like an aeroplane), robustness should apply.
“Antifragility can lead to a lack of planning and preparation.” —> Antifragility is not intended to replace planning and preparation but to complement them.
“The antifragile theory (and book) lacks of scientific rigour.” —> while this criticism is somewhat valid, the lack of scientific rigour is a feature of antifragility to illustrate the concept.
📚 Top book
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
🗂 See also
📝 Top content
A Definition of Antifragile and its Implications - Farnam Street
How to Manage your Engineering Team Under Pressure - Antifragility Lessons From Robinhood and Facebook - Adam Wolff
Antifragile Planning: Optimising for Optionality (Without Chasing Shiny Objects) - Taylor Pearson
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