Nassim Taleb defines Anti-Fragile as a system that gets better when subjected to stress. Most systems break under stress, but culture isn't one of them.
Let us explain - Imagine a package that read FRAGILE on the side. People automatically handle it with care. What happens when you throw the package around? Things inside it break. If it was a glassware set, you can say goodbye to it. Now imagine a package that says anti-fragile on the side. Tossing it around will only increase the strength of the package. It's hard to imagine something like this, and yet this concept exists.
Anti-fragility exists in some people who face the odds and overcome their challenges only to rise to a whole new level. Earth has gone through the process of evolution to face the challenges and emerge victorious. Anti-fragile systems are extremely robust, adaptive and inherently focus on success & survival.
Characteristics of anti-fragility:
1. Fragile systems break under stress. Anti-fragile systems get better under stress.
2. In order for a system to be anti-fragile, most of its parts must be fragile.
3. These systems work because they build extra capacity when subjected to stress. Kinda like our muscles.
HOW IS CULTURE ANTI-FRAGILE?
Setting the right culture requires a lot of internal iterations. As stated above, anti-fragile systems contain a lot of fragile parts. When it comes to culture, a lot of managers refrain from talking directly to people about their challenges and feelings at work. This plants an unfortunate seed in the minds of employees who think that 'managers don't care' or 'they care just about the numbers'.
This small unfortunate event of not just spending 1-1 time with an employee can help fester politics. This is an extremely sensitive situation, in other words fragile. But taking care of this - showing that you care about the employees, their opinions, their feedbacks and their feelings can boost their morale and strengthen the bonds between you and them.
Just like 1-1 meeting, there are other factors such as employee growth, mindset, leave policies, benefits, appreciation, public recognition, healthy competition, non-monotonous work, etc that are extremely fragile. These factors make up the foundation of the culture. And once you start addressing one by one in small amounts can go a long way to strengthen your culture. We recommend spending just 15 mins a day addressing one simple thing. It could be just a 'thank you' call or a 'good work' call to an employee or just asking someone how their day is going and being genuinely interested in them.
In no time, these small spurts of consistent actions will add up to a strong culture. Good luck!