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Does your business need a FRAGILE label?



"What is the opposite of fragile?"


Nassim Taleb opened his *2012 bestseller by posing this question. If you are a native English speaker, you will not find an answer to this question in your vocabulary, as it doesn’t exist.


What about ‘robust’, or ‘strong’? Nope; those are in the middle of the spectrum. Fragile objects get weaker with stress, so how do we describe that which becomes stronger with stress?


Nassim chose to use the most self-evident option; “the opposite of fragile is ‘antifragile’.” Our musculoskeletal is an example of an antifragile system in that it requires stress to grow stronger.


So back to our original question. Is your business fragile? The answer to this question forces us to dig deep and think about how we view workplace error and failure.


I don’t know about your organisation, but high performance teams certainly ARE antifragile. Air force fighter-squadrons use a closed loop execution cycle, and this process ensures the team uses every failure to become stronger, more resilient, and less likely to suffer the same failure again. **It's a very simple five-step process:


  1. Plan

  2. Brief

  3. Execute

  4. Debrief

  5. Respond

Through this process, the fighter squadron uses failure to grow stronger. So then, shouldn't we be seeking out every failure and error in the knowledge that these are a critical component of constant improvement?


If your business needs a fragile label, you are probably missing step 4 or 5. You are in good company. Most organisations finish executing, then pop the champagne before quickly moving on to the next task.

By building an antifragile business, you have a significant advantage over the fragile majority.


*Nassim Taleb’s 2012 book 'Antifragile' is definitely on my 'all time best books' list (or would be if I kept such a thing). It changed the way I viewed the world.

**The Richardson HPS ‘LeaderShift’ program helps you embed this process into your business. But, running a high performance organisation isn’t for everyone; it requires commitment. Most businesses just want to get the job done then move on. As a fighter pilot, a mission was never complete until we had debriefed and analysed EVERY part of our execution, and taken action to respond to the lessons. No matter how late it was, no matter how tired we were.


Average is popular because it is easy.

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