The Antifragile Enterprise

turn downside into upside

Typical agile transformations are fragile, seldom coming come close to their potential. Achieve agility and beyond—the natural way.


Technology is increasing the volatility of our world faster than it can help us predict and control it. It only takes one surprise disruption to wipe out a fragile organization.


“Antifragile” systems thrive on volatility and stress. They welcome volatility because they possess the options that their competitors lack to capitalize on unexpected events.


Nurture a bias-for-options using Option-Based Thinking and infuse option-generating behavior into your culture by applying Option Kata throughout the enterprise.

Option-Based Thinking

The option is an agent of antifragility. – N. N. Taleb

Increasing your options both reduces your exposure to uncertainty and increases your opportunity. Options reduce your exposure simply by creating more pathways to your goals. They increase your opportunity because, as their number and dispersion increases, so does the probability that our volatile marketplace will unexpectedly swerve into them. This is the essence of antifragility.

In the same way that lean thinking goes well beyond simply “eliminating waste,” Option-Based Thinking goes well beyond the platitude of “keeping your options open.” Option-Based Thinking is the disciplined application of beliefs, values, and principles that systematize the pursuit and application of options.


The world is becoming increasingly volatile and unpredictable.

— therefore —

Organizations that rely on prediction are fragile.


Humility over confidence

Complex systems have proven too unpredictable to justify confidence in one’s abilities to predict or control them.

Generating options over making predictions

It is better to be in many places at once than to try to predict where you must be at any given time.

Protecting people over maximizing short-term profits

Using people’s livelihood as options to protect corporate profits is immoral.

Vested interests over "expert" advice

The quality of options is far higher when the people championing them have something to lose when those options fail.

Principles (Abstract Simple Rules)

1. Focus where you are fragile.

Rather than attempting to quantify risks, monitor where and how you are fragile and prioritize improving optionality in the most fragile areas. Assume things to be more fragile than you think.

2. Increase the number of independent options.

Err on the side of continuously identifying more options, ensuring that the conditions that render one option unfit don’t simultaneously render the others unfit.

3. Reduce option cost.

Increase the asymmetric payoff of your options by continuously uncovering ways to lower their cost. Further multiply their potential value by spreading them across the enterprise.

4. Quickly identify and eliminate unfit options.

Understand which criteria would make an option fit or unfit in your particular context. Rule out candidate options as quickly as possible.

5. Reduce your people's exposure to uncertainty.

Be transparent with your people about the inherent fragility of their jobs while encouraging and supporting their efforts to improve the options they can provide to you. Cull teams, projects, products, and service offerings in response to stressors rather than people.

6. Increase people's “skin in the game.”

People recommend better options when they are personally invested in the options they recommend. Avoid the “agency problem” by ensuring people who champion particular options share in their downside as well as their upside.

Close Bitnami banner