Anti-Fragile systems not only withstand shocks but improve as a result. They learn from adversity, adapt to changing circumstances, and evolve to be more robust. For example:
- Exercise builds. Exertion burns.
- Vaccines and some exposure to diseases improves overall immunity.
- Regular bubble bursts overall weeds out the weakness in the economy
In contrast: Most systems are either fragile or at best resilient.
- Fragile things and systems are vulnerable to shocks and disruptions. For example, glass, weak minds, unprofitable businesses, etc.
- Resilient things and systems can withstand shock and return to their original state after being disrupted. For example, buildings that are designed to withstand earthquakes.
How to build anti-fragility:
- Mindset: See uncertainty and volatility as opportunities to learn.
- Prepare: Actively do things that enhance margin of safety (resilience)
- Take risks, but within your margin of safety, i.e., avoid making bets that, if unsuccessful, could lead to the Risk of Ruin.
- Subject your system to controlled levels of stress (variety, volume or velocity) and pressure.
- Do a pre-mortem, i.e., imagine what scenarios would lead to failure.
- Learn: Observe failures objectively to identify weaknesses and areas of improvements. Work on them.
- Build feedback loops across the system to enable information flow.
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb