Business lessons from Antifragile

Assymetric management

About a year ago myself and Frank Hannigan decided to write a book on asymmetric management. Our argument being that actively managing serendipity is more important than business optimisation.  The way I explain asymmetric management is a reflection on far we have come with this book (not far).

Data, marketing, planning, organisation, strategy, intuition, education, passion, entrepreneurship and the future

So I have been looking forward to Taleb’s new book. I was right. Having read it, I think it is a core book which touches on an enormous range of books we cover with our clients. From Loose, Happiness advantage to 4-hour body, Brand Washed, Thinking Fast and Slow, The invisible gorilla, Future Babble, Everything we know is wrong, Business exposed, 33 strategies of war, Mavericks at work, Poke the box, Out of our minds, Starfish and the spider, Blink and I can go on.

Soul in the game for credibility

He does not like academics, marketers, bankers, managers and futurologists. He distrusts statistics, doctors and medicine, large organisations and large systems. He beliefs in applied learning versus theory and universities, loves entrepreneurs, thinks that honour and skin and soul in the game are essential for credibility (that goes for experts, advisors, civil servants, bankers), that small is beautiful, and loves books, reflection and slow flow.

Not sure if I would I have liked it I hadn’t read those other books. But this book will most definitely make you think.

Small shocks as antidote

Not going to try to explain his thinking, it is chaos theory, biology, adaptability, black swans and small shocks as an antidote to large shocks. In life and in business.

Lessons for business

Businesses should study the barbell approach (the middle is for suckers, combine super save with very high risk), study optionality, question their approach to innovation, look at the way they train staff, re-examine organisational structures and be aware of the Lindy effect.

The Lindy effect

Old is not necessarily bad, the longer something has been around, the longer it will be around. The chair (as in furniture) does not need to worry. However, if I was Facebook, I would be very concerned.


Some quotes directly from the book that will give you a sense of the book. Non predictability, living life to its fullest and freedom:

Non predicatbility

What is nonmeasurable and nonpredictable will remain nonmeasurable and nonpredictable, no matter how many PhDs with Russian and Indian names you put on the job—and no matter how much hate mail I get. There is, in the Black Swan zone, a limit to knowledge that can never be reached, no matter how sophisticated statistical and risk management science.

Living life

Provided we have the right type of rigor, we need randomness, mess, adventures, uncertainty, self-discovery, near-traumatic episodes, all these things that make life worth living, compared to the structured, fake, and ineffective life of an empty-suit CEO with a preset schedule and an alarm clock


The definition of the free man, according to Aristotle, is one who is free with his opinions.





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