House of Antifragility

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What is the House of Antifragility?


The House of Antifragility is a model, created by the Antifragility Institute (Si Alhir, Sebastian Burgemejster, Piotr Welenc), which identifies the main factors that contribute to achieving greater antifragility. It is composed of 14 principles organized into 5 groups.

Sebastian: These principles are built based on our shared experience and are universal. However, their use should depend on the context of the situation and the combination of opposites (we try to replace the words "or" with the word "and"). Based on our experience, we are convinced that using the following principles will allow you to become less fragile and build antifragility at every level: organization, function, team, personal.

Piotr: Antifragility is today’s requirement for sound business management in a rapidly changing environment. It expresses awareness of oneself as an entity and of one's strengths and weaknesses. It treats business as a jewel, which must be protected and cared for. Its splendor must be constantly enhanced and protected from mediocrity and fragility. Honest business can be attacked today. Everything of value is praised today, but it can also be attacked. Antifragility is a possible response of an open mind to threats.

Si: The House of Agility expresses and elaborates the principles, revealed through practice, at the heart of antifragility. The house was developed as a shared perspective on which everyone could reflect and which we can enrich as a community. This commentary is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather a conversation starter as we grow together as a community. The house expresses a clear point of view, composed of 14 principles organized in 5 groups, with core tensions that must be continuously integrated (“and” not “or” thinking) in a specific context to manifest antifragility, otherwise, when tensions are not synthesized, fragility manifests.

 

Foundation Group

  • Simple Rules: Simple rules are best. This is deep wisdom. Follow the principle of simple thinking. Everything that is natural is simple.

  • Don’t Suppress Randomness: Misfortunes are seldom a coincidence. They are usually created because of neglect accumulated over years. Don’t let problems accumulate.

  • Expose Yourself to Stress: Your goals give you great strength, use stress to your benefit.

  • Virtuous Culture: Culture is virtuous to those who are humble to its power.

Sebastian: The foundation principles are the basis for reducing fragility and slowly building antifragility. We see the need to simplify structures and rules, often too complicated and bureaucratic, in favor of more adaptable or agile solutions to unforeseen situations and crises. At the same time, we see great value in the acceleration of random events and controlling exposure to stressful situations. All of the above principles must be based on an internal code of conduct (culture) that fosters openness, accepting the possibility of exposure to errors, and operating on the principle of meritocracy.

Piotr: We build houses from the foundation up. The foundation of an anti-corruption house is principles. Rules should be simple, clear, and easily adaptable to any situation. We have too many regulations and too few standards. Regulations lead to bureaucracy, standards lead to ethics and meritocracy. The naturalness of doing business lies in human beings since the beginning of civilization, which gave us freedom, opportunities, not only as statistical measures but as the realization of human potential. The Foundation group is a reflection on the creativity of the company, which comes from the potential of every person in the company. With antifragility, your company will treat crises as an opportunity for growth. People will not panic. Randomness and uncertainty is also an opportunity, and in business, opportunities should be seized. 

Si: The Foundation group situates the house. The Foundation group emphasizes starting with simplicity and achieving virtuousness through embracing randomness and stress. Reality involves randomness and stress. People generally respond to reality by attempting to suppress randomness and avoid stress, often due to fear. Aliveness involves simple rules and virtuousness. People generally respond to aliveness by creating complicated rules, often under the guise of maturity, that ultimately challenge their virtuousness. Consider . . . Experience is grounded in the context of two foundational tensions: Reality & fantasy, and aliveness & deadness. How do you respond to randomness? How do you respond to stress? Do these have negative, positive, or neutral connotations for you? Is your response complicated or simple? Is your response grounded in what you deem virtuous? These and similar questions must be considered.

 

Core Group

 

  • Wisdom: Cleverness is freedom. Don’t trust one solution or arbitrary resolution. Reality is richer than any model. Think creatively using many aspects.

  • Empirical: Open mindedness wins. Don’t let yourself lose the comfort of independent thinking. Play with prototypes. You are the conductor and how actions unfold depends only on your imagination. Broaden your horizon.

Sebastian: The Core Group is based on experience, not only knowledge. Knowledge is not helpful in everyday life, especially without support in real conditions, tested and applied in practice. The key is to combine knowledge, experience, healthy skepticism, and the search for new solutions. At the same time, it is essential to be flexible and change perspectives from inside to outside and from broad to detail.

Piotr: Dogmatism and blind obedience without independent thinking leads to disastrous consequences. In the short term, it disintegrate the company and turns it into an army of slaves who constantly and mindlessly follow their superiors for profits. Your company deserves you and your creativity. It grows through the development of your personality, knowledge and interpersonal relations. You contribute a lot to it as a free person, thinking outside the box, and by asking questions and doubting. An open mind constantly discovers, searches and conducts research. Without it, neither learning nor risk avoidance is possible. Belief in the rightness of the goal gives great strength and provides great opportunities. 

Si: The Core group integrates all the other groups in the house, it is the heart and soul of the house. The Core group emphasizes thriving beyond surviving through empiricism and evolving beyond adapting through wisdom. Wisdom involves a "model" formed through aliveness. Empiricism involves a "horizon" formed through engaging reality. Consider . . . Wisdom is achieved by embracing an explorer’s mindset. Do you seek experiences from which to evolve? Do you consider being more independent? Do you consider being more redundant? These are key to gaining greater wisdom. Empiricism is achieved by embracing an entrepreneur’s mindset. Do you seek opportunities from which to thrive? Do you explore options? Do you perform experiments? These are key to being more empirical.

Learning Group

 

  • Respect the Past: Before you throw it away, try to fix it. Some things always work the same. Progress is something better, not necessarily something new.

  • Lean-Unlearn-Learn: Learning is not only about knowledge. Learning is the accumulation of experiences and the ability to share them with others who are open-minded.

  • Use Failure to Learn: Failure allows you to destroy models before they destroy you.

Sebastian: Development is dependent on continuous learning, especially in the current turbulent, fast-changing environment. In the development process, we distinguish three key elements:

  • Using the previous skills and improving.

  • Drawing conclusions from mistakes made and failures suffered.

  • Observing and rejecting those elements that cease to work or no longer fit into the changed context. 

Piotr: Antiquity forces the entrepreneur to learn. Learning is formalized; wisdom escapes formalism. Learning and wisdom complement each other. The eagle has two wings and it is these that lift it high through their synergy of action. The eagle soars high and observes everything from above. It  has a healthy distance, but it is not indifferent to what it sees from above. Observation and learning allow the eagle to better adapt to its environment and see opportunities and threats where others do not. Therefore, we can always be one step ahead of the competition. If you don't share your experiences, knowledge, practices, and failures, you won't be able to be objective about yourself.

Si: The Learning group first elaborates the Core group’s Wisdom principle and then elaborates the Core group’s Empirical principle. Having wisdom involves learning from the "past", learning by "unlearning" and relearning, and learning from "failure". Being empirical involves learning from “progress” and “experiences”. Learning requires avoiding what inhibits more learning, otherwise survival may be compromised. Notice the relationship to the Avoiding group. Consider . . . There are an infinite number of sources for learning. This group emphasizes continuous learning without fixating on the past, what we have learned, or failure. Is your learning discrete (versus continuous)? What sources do you learn from (and why)? Why not learn from other sources? How is your learning continuous? These are key questions to continuous learning. Generally, organizations, groups, and people struggle with learning, these are the types of questions that can cultivate clarity. This group is more-or-less an adornment to the Foundation and Core groups, and really aims to anchor the Core group in surviving.

 

Avoiding Group

  • Avoid Big Risks: Things are important, less important, and completely unimportant. Often, failure is because of the last, which is not worth it.

  • Avoid Being Consumed by Data: Data is blood in your circulatory system. It powers your brain. Don’t let yourself bleed. Keep your data safe.

  • Focus More on Avoiding: Support what works, correct what doesn’t.

Sebastian: In business and life, it is often essential to take risks to achieve your goals. We do not deny this approach, and we believe that it is necessary. However, our experience tells us that ignoring risk, belittling it, putting everything on one horse in times of uncertainty is not the best strategy. Even negligible, unexpected events with an excessively high level of risk can lead to a catastrophe. Therefore, we recommend fully conscious high-risk taking, with alternatives and options so that negative scenarios do not destroy our plans entirely. 

The twenty-first century is the century of the information economy, and this requires a focus on accurate, proven, reliable, and necessary data and information. On the one hand, decision-making should be based on the best possible information, but on the other hand, we must not be absorbed by too scanty and incomprehensible data. Finally, it should be remembered that in the digital world, data is the bloodstream, and you need to take care of its safety to protect it from leaks, destruction, or unwanted changes.

Piotr: Risk in itself is not a misfortune. It becomes one when you sweep it under the carpet. To close your eyes and pretend that there is no danger is extremely irresponsible. You should talk to your environment using  risk language. Risk sensitivity is not just about seeing the biggest threats, but  an "early warning" system. The world is a giant network of dependencies, connections, relationships. A spider feels the vibrations of each individual string of its web. We try to be perfect, confident, tolerate failures, and try to learn from the network.

Si: The Avoiding group first elaborates the Core group’s Wisdom principle and then elaborates the Core group’s Empirical principle. Having wisdom involves avoiding "big risks", avoiding drowning in "data", and avoiding fixating on "what doesn’t work". Being empirical involves avoiding the “completely unimportant” and what does not “em-power”. Avoiding requires learning what to avoid, otherwise survival may be compromised. Notice the relationship to the Learning group. Consider . . . There are an infinite number of things to avoid. This group emphasizes continuously avoiding without fixating on risks, data, and what doesn’t work. Is your avoiding discrete (versus continuous)? What do you avoid (and why)? Why not avoid other things? How is your avoiding continuous? These are key questions to continuous avoiding. Generally, organizations, groups, and people struggle with avoiding, these are the types of questions that can cultivate clarity. This group is more-or-less an adornment to the Foundation and Core groups, and really aims to anchor the Core group in surviving.

Purpose Group

  • Soul in the Game: Commitment, anticipation, and passion will motivate you to be constantly ready to change your point of view.

  • Be Broad-minded, but See Details: By analyzing details, you are assured of the foundation to go beyond your horizon.

Sebastian: Purpose, commitment, passion, responsibility, and accountability for your actions are indispensable factors of success. Without these elements, you will not have enough strength, courage, and perseverance to overcome obstacles or go through more difficult times. Difficulties, challenges, and crises are the best verification tool. However, your dedication to the cause must not cause tunnel vision without focusing on the bigger picture. In case of a coincidence, it's a flexible change to see valuable details.

Piotr: It is always essential to have the bigger picture in mind. One must always reach over the horizon. Hopelessness is just a product of minds that have given up on their goals. You should allow yourself to dream. Creating a business based solely on numbers and data is boring, sad and not very motivating. You too can change the world by achieving more goals that lead you to success. The stone you stumble over is part of the path you are walking. Will the fact that you stumble over it make you resent it and stop halfway? You get better every day. Your future gains new perspectives every day. Details are important, but they can't cloud your horizon.

Si: The Purpose group first elaborates the Core group’s Empirical principle and then elaborates the Core group’s Wisdom principle. Being empirical involves acting with “motivation” towards the “horizon”. Having wisdom involves being “ready to change” and considering “details”. Motivation requires a horizon towards which to be motivated, otherwise thriving may be compromised. A horizon requires motivation to progress towards the horizon, otherwise thriving may be compromised. Consider . . . There are an infinite number of things that may motivate a soul. There are an infinite number of things that determine breadth, depth, and what’s possible. This group emphasizes continuously determining your purpose considering "what feeds your soul" and the context of "what’s possible". What feeds your soul? What saps your soul? What’s possible? What’s impossible? These are key questions to continuously determine your purpose. Generally, organizations, groups, and people struggle with purpose, these are the types of questions that can cultivate clarity. This group is more-or-less an adornment to the Foundation and Core groups, and really aims to orient the Core group toward thriving.