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Antifragility through the lens of Change-Agile Organizations and Remarkable Organizations

June 5, 2015

*** *** *** Interactive Antifragility Webinar *** *** ***
(June 30, 2015; 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT))


In The Future of Management and What Matters Now, Gary Hamel (@profhamel) emphasized:

As human beings, we are amazingly adaptable and creative, yet most of us work for companies that are not. In other words, we work for organizations that aren’t very human.

We are all prisoners of our paradigms. A paradigm is more than a way of thinking — it’s a worldview, a broadly and deeply held belief about what types of problems are worth solving, or are even solvable.

Two formidable gurus — Paul Gibbons (@PaulGGibbons) and Leandro Herrero (@LeandroEHerrero) — are confronting the challenges with organizations and advancing the practice of change!

Paul Gibbons Leandro Herrero

Paul operates at the nexus of Science and Leadership / Philosophy and Business with a focus on leading change, changing cultures, and change leadership as he champions change-agile organizations. Paul embraces the “unorthodox, challenging, and thought-provoking” to guide businesses!

Paul’s The Science of Successful Organizational Change among his other work is absolutely a must-read! See his LinkedIn posts for more!

Leandro is an Architect of Organizations who focuses on organization change (orchestrating large scale, grassroots, and behavior change), culture, leadership, and innovation as he champions the quest for Building Remarkable Organizations. Leandro embraces “shaping tomorrow’s organizations today” and “making today’s organizations remarkable” — “We don’t do ‘small difference’ – if this is what you have in mind, don’t hire us.”

Leandro’s Homo Imitans and Viral Change among his other works are absolutely a must-read! See his LinkedIn posts for more!

Lisa Nemeth Cavanagh, who participated in the May 6, 2015 Antifragility event, will also join Paul and Leandro!

In Antifragile, Nassim Nichol Taleb (@nntaleb) introduced Antifragility:

Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile.

Join the conversation with Paul, Leandro, and Lisa on the Interactive Antifragility Webinar (June 30, 2015; 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)) as we explore (“deep dive”) how they have interpreted Taleb’s concept of Antifragility, translated their interpretation into practice, and the results and impacts of their efforts!


Please see the following for background . . .
Antifragile, Flexibility, Robust, Resilience, Agility, and Fragile
The Emergence of the Antifragile Organization
The Triad: Fragile, Robust, and Antifragile
Antifragility: From Details to Nuances [LinkedIn]
Demystifying Antifragility: Beyond Agility Workshop


The May-6-2015 Antifragility Panel/Webinar: Practice Beyond the Rhetoric!

May 17, 2015

On March 18th, 2015 and on May 6th, 2015, various distinguished practitioners organized to explore Antifragility — see here for full details!

On May 6th, Barry Bettman (@barrybettman), Si Alhir (@SAlhir), and Russ Miles (@russmiles) hosted the event, which focused on exploring the practice of Antifragility beyond the rhetoric using the following questions:

  • How have you interpreted Taleb’s concept of Antifragility?
  • How have you translated your interpretation into practice?
  • What are the results and impacts of your efforts?

Open

Introductions

Barbara Trautlein (@btrautlein),
author of Change Intelligence
Tony Bendell (@AntiFragileUK),
with The Anti-Fragility Academy,
author of Building Anti-Fragile Organisations
Jennifer Sertl (@JenniferSertl and @Agility3R),
author of Strategy, Leadership and the Soul
John King (@flowdaddy13),
author of Tribal Leadership
Lisa Nemeth Cavanagh (@lnemethcavanagh),
contributor to Demystifying Antifragility: Beyond Agility
 Andrew Black (@AntifragileDoc),
author of The Antifragile Doctor

How have you interpreted Taleb’s concept of Antifragility?

Hosts
Barbara Trautlein
Tony Bendell
Jennifer Sertl
John King
Lisa Nemeth
Andrew Black
Hosts

The panelists explored the concept of antifragility — stress and growth, the antifragile theory of the firm, resilience and robustness, the value and naturalness of chaos, antifragility and The Art of War, and the triad (fragile, robust, antifragile).

Fundamentally, the concept of antifragility involves a sense of aliveness in chaos, which has many synergies with The Art of War.

How have you translated your interpretation into practice?

Hosts
Barbara Trautlein
Tony Bendell
Jennifer Sertl
John King
Lisa Nemeth
Andrew Black
Hosts

The panelists explored the practice of antifragility — awareness and being awake to the illusion of control, the balance between efficiency and effectiveness in achieving more fragility or more antifragility, entrepreneurship, a sense of being to embrace whatever is becoming, awareness to foster naturalness versus seeing to be overly efficient or overly effective, and via-less versus via-more.

Fundamentally, the practice of antifragility involves embracing reality where one leverages their awareness (with self-reflection and empathy), choices or options, and navigates appropriately among various anchors.

What are the results and impacts of your efforts?

Hosts
Barbara Trautlein
Tony Bendell
Jennifer Sertl
John King
Lisa Nemeth
Andrew Black
Hosts

The panelists explored the results of the practice of antifragility — sense of peace through awareness and reflection, the notion of choices with options and power, antifragility engages people more than traditional improvement programs, co-working spaces and how children engage the world through innocent wonderment, zero-sum gains versus nonzero-sum gains, the individual and the group, scalability and the naturalness of chaos with the comfort of being in chaos versus the popular belief to remove all chaos, and redundancy and contingency as common sense.

Fundamentally, the results of the practice of antifragility involve a journey in being and becoming more alive.

Closing Thoughts

Barbara Trautlein (@btrautlein)
Tony Bendell (@AntiFragileUK)
Jennifer Sertl (@JenniferSertl and @Agility3R)
John King (@flowdaddy13)
Lisa Nemeth Cavanagh (@lnemethcavanagh)
 Andrew Black (@AntifragileDoc)

The panelists emphasized that antifragility is not merely a goal (or ends) but more-so a tool (or means) to an end!

Fundamentally, being alive for the sake of being alive is problematic — there is more to our aliveness!

Close

Antifragility Panel/Webinar: Practice Beyond the Rhetoric!

May 17, 2015

In his book “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder”, Nassim Nicholas Taleb‘s (@nntaleb) introduced the concept of antifragility.

Appreciating this concept involves initially recognizing it and then translating it into practice!

First, Taleb distinguishes between the fragile, robust, and antifragile: “the fragile wants tranquility, the antifragile grows from disorder, and the robust doesn’t care too much.”

Next, Taleb advances that “by grasping the mechanisms of antifragility we can build a systematic and broad guide to non-predictive decision making under uncertainty in business, politics, medicine, and life in general.”

As the world continues to become increasingly interconnected and interdependent, Black Swans — large-scale unpredictable and irregular events of massive consequence — are necessarily becoming more prominent!

As a result of the proliferation of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, non-predictive decision making is quintessential — and individuals, teams & groups, and organizations & enterprises are embracing the quest for greater antifragility to realize greater employee creativity & engagement and market innovation & disruption!

As Sir Francis Bacon explained:

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.

Taleb’s Antifragility book (and concept) is indeed to be “chewed and digested . . . wholly, and with diligence and attention”!


Please see the following for background . . .
Antifragile, Flexibility, Robust, Resilience, Agility, and Fragile
The Emergence of the Antifragile Organization
The Triad: Fragile, Robust, and Antifragile
Antifragility: From Details to Nuances [LinkedIn]
Demystifying Antifragility: Beyond Agility Workshop


Antifragility Panels

Various panels of practitioners have been organized to explore “practice beyond the rhetoric”, share experiences, and offer perspective on how to apply antifragility through the following questions:

  • How have you interpreted Taleb’s concept of Antifragility?
  • How have you translated your interpretation into practice?
  • What are the results and impacts of your efforts?

As Taleb suggests “Agile Schmagile” . . . if you’ve embraced any degree of agility, don’t miss this opportunity to go beyond agility and explore antifragility in practice!

While agility involves responding to change, antifragility involves gaining from disorder; and while agility emphasizes embracing change through inspecting and adapting, antifragility emphasizes embracing chaos through adapting and evolving!

Theory and Practice

Albert Einstein emphasized the distinction between theory and practice . . .

In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.

W. Edwards Deming emphasized the importance of theory . . .

Experience by itself teaches nothing… Without theory, experience has no meaning. Without theory, one has no questions to ask. Hence, without theory, there is no learning.

The Secrets only Practice can Reveal

And Nassim Nicholas Taleb emphasizes:

For a theory is a very dangerous thing to have. And of course one can rigorously do science without it. What scientists call phenomenology is the observation of an empirical regularity without a visible theory for it. In the Triad, I put theories in the fragile category, phenomenology in the robust one. Theories are superfragile; they come and go, then come and go, then come and go again; phenomenologies stay, and I can’t believe people don’t realize that phenomenology is “robust” and usable, and theories, while overhyped, are unreliable for decision making — outside physics.

The key is that the significant can only be revealed through practice.

No, we don’t put theories into practice. We create theories out of practice.

It is just that things that are implemented tend to want to be born from practice, not theory.

There are secrets to our world that only practice can reveal, and no opinion or analysis will ever capture in full. This secret property is, of course, revealed through time, and, thankfully, only through time.

Join the various panels/webinars as we explore the practice of Antifragility beyond the rhetoric!

Panel #1 (March 18, 2015)

Hosted by Barry Bettman (@barrybettman), Si Alhir (@SAlhir), and Russ Miles (@russmiles), the Europe panel included:

The recording for the Europe panel is available here!

Hosted by Barry Bettman (@barrybettman), Russ Miles (@russmiles), and Si Alhir (@SAlhir), the North America panel:

The recording for the North America panel is available here!

Panel #2 (May 6, 2015)

Barry Bettman (@barrybettman), Si Alhir (@SAlhir), and Russ Miles (@russmiles) hosted the next panel, which included:

The recording for the second panel is available here!

Agile and Antifragile Change Leadership

May 3, 2015

The PwC 16th Annual global CEO Survey empathizes that we must expect the unexpected and emerge stronger than before:

During the past decade, we’ve seen economic volatility and disruption escalate to arguably unprecedented levels. . . . For business leaders across the world, “expect the unexpected” has become the mantra.

The only way forward is to build organisations that can survive and thrive amidst disorder: organisations that are agile and adaptable, able to cope with disruption and emerge stronger than before.

To expect the unexpected and emerge strong, consider integrating Antifragility and Change Intelligence:

Antifragility + Change Intelligence = Agile and Antifragile Change Leadership

Listen to the webinar introducing Antifragile Change Leadership.

We’ll be offering Antifragility Change Leader Virtual Certification Workshops soon!

Change Intelligence

In her book, Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks, Barbara A. Trautlein (@btrautlein) introduces Change Intelligence (CQ) — “a simple yet powerful model for change leadership”:

Change intelligence, or CQ, is the awareness of one’s own change leadership style and the ability to adapt one’s style to be optimally effective in leading change across a variety of situations.

The CQ Systems starts with the fact that each change leader has a basic tendency to lead with his or her Heart (Affective/heartset for “who”), Head (Cognitive/mindset for “why” and “what”), Hands (Behaviors/skillset for “how”), or some combination of the three. If you lead mainly from the Heart, you connect with people emotionally (I want it!). If you lead from the Head, you connect with people cognitively (I get it!). And if you lead from the Hands, you connect with people behaviorally (I can do it!). Depending on your natural inclination toward one of these, you have your own set of talents and areas to improve.

Of course, no one leads completely from the Heart, or Head, or Hands. Each of us is a blend of all three, and a small percentage of people do lead with all three with equal savvy. But most of us tend to rely primarily on one or two of these aspects as we lead through change.

Powerful Change Leaders “start with the heart [people-oriented],” “engage the brain [purpose-oriented],” and “help the hands [process-oriented]” move in positive new directions.

Barbara also provides a visualization:

CQ-2015-05-03-00

See here for more on Change Intelligence!

Antifragility

In his book, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb (@nntaleb) introduces Antifragility:

Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile.

Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind.

Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos: you want to use them, not hide from them.

The mission is how to domesticate, even dominate, even conquer, the unseen, the opaque, and the inexplicable.

See here for more on Antifragility!

Agility and Antifragility

In practice, we can differentiate between the Fragile, Antiagile, Robust, Agile, and Antifragile:

Agility involves responding to change (causing stress), which emphasizes embracing change through inspecting and adapting.

Antifragility involves gaining from disorder (causing stress), which emphasizes embracing disorder through adapting and evolving.

Fragility, Antiagility, Robustness, Agility, and Antifragility may be visualized:

FAARAAF-2015-05-03-00

Agile Change Leadership

Barbara emphasizes:

It is not inherently better or worse to focus on the Heart or the Head or the Hands. However, the effectiveness of a change leadership style shifts in different scenarios depending on the type of change occurring, the business objective, the organizational culture, the people involved, and many other factors.

Fundamentally, it’s the ability to shift that defines an agile change leader — that is, inspecting and adapting (Agility as Boyd’s OODA loop).

An agile change leader embraces change while adapting their change leadership style to be optimally effective given the current situation.

That is, an agile change leader adjusts their style to conditions (stresses) by shifting from one style to another.

Agile Change Leadership may also be visualized:

A-CQ-2015-05-03-00

Notice that we adapt to conditions!

Antifragile Change Leadership

Barbara emphasizes:

Many people are unaware of their dominant aspect (or aspects), and of the impact their leadership style has on the change initiatives they lead. But the effect of how you lead during change is significant — overreliance on the Heart, Head, or Hands to the detriment of the other aspects can alienate the people around you and limit your success. Fortunately, we can all build our capacity to use all three aspects and adapt our change leadership style to be more effective in any situation.

Fundamentally, it’s the ability to build our capacity that defines an antifragile change leader — that is, adapting and evolving.

An antifragile change leader embraces disorder while adapting and evolving their change leadership style to be optimally effective given the current situation.

That is, an antifragile change leader not only adjusts their style to conditions (stresses) by shifting from one style to another, but also develops all their styles from the conditions (stresses) by building the capacity to use all three aspects (Head, Heart, Hands).

Antifragile Change Leadership may also be visualized (without disorder or stress “arrows”):

AF-CQ-2015-05-03-00

Antifragile Change Leadership may also be visualized (with disorder or stress “arrows”):

AF-DS-CQ-2015-05-03-00

Notice that we evolve from conditions!

Listen here to the webinar where Barbara and I introduced Antifragile Change Leadership.

We’ll be offering Antifragility Change Leader Virtual Certification Workshops soon!

Millennial-powered Revolution in Business: Digital, Clear, Fluid, and Fast

March 8, 2015

Jamie Notter (@jamienotter) and Maddie Grant (@maddiegrant) graciously shared a review copy of When Millennials Take Over (WMTO) with me. As a champion of their Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World, I was very intrigued by WMTO!

WMTO is rooted in the “perfect storm” of trends converging to generate a revolution in business, including the decline of traditional management, the social internet revolution, and the Millennial generation entering the workforce.

Based on researching companies with remarkably strong cultures and the Millennial generation’s approach to management, WMTO explores “four organizational capacities that we [Jamie and Maddie] think will prepare organizations to be successful, both today and into the future”: Digital, Clear, Fluid, and Fast.

Digital – Organizational Life that is Focused on the Customer

Digital is about perpetual and exponential improvement of all facets of organizational life using both the tools and the mindsets of the digital world.

The industrial model of management was, quite simply, analog — mechanical and linear, like a pocket watch where you can see and control how everything works together.

Digital in the Millennial era, on the other hand, has an unrelenting and disciplined focus on the customer or end user — including the employee.

Digital organizations grow faster and accomplish more by focusing on the user, both internally and externally.

The first organizational capacity, Digital, emphasizes Focus — with a shift from controlling how everything works together to focus on the customer.

Clear – Information and Knowledge Transparency for Decision Making

Clear is about an increased and more intelligent flow of information and knowledge that supports innovation and problem solving inside organizations.

The industrial model of management linked information with power, so it tended to hoard information at the top, sharing it in a very careful and controlled way.

Clear in the Millennial era is about leveraging strategic transparency in systems to enable better decision making.

Clear organizations make smarter decisions that generate better results.

The second organizational capacity, Clear, emphasizes Decision Making — with a shift from information as power to transparency for better decision making.

Fluid – Distributed Power for Effectiveness and Nimbleness

Fluid is about expanding and distributing power in a dynamic and flexible way.

The industrial model of management viewed power from the perspective of control and thus as a limited resource.

Fluid in the Millennial era is about systems that enable an integrated process of thinking, acting, and learning at all levels of the organization.

Fluid organizations serve customers more effectively and are more nimble in both strategy and execution.

The third organizational capacity, Fluid, emphasizes Power — with a shift from power as control to power as effectiveness and nimbleness in strategy and execution.

Fast – Action for Leaping Ahead of the Competition

Fast is about taking action at the precise moment when action is needed.

The industrial model of management focused on speed in terms of efficiency and productivity.

Fast in the Millennial era is about systems that can learn and adapt while still maintaining the efficiency and productivity of the previous era.

Fast organizations leap ahead of the competition by releasing control in a way that does not increase risk.

The fourth organizational capacity, Fast, emphasizes Action — with a shift from speed to releasing control.

Optimism

Optimism is actually an over-arching capacity that is critical for succeeding in any kind of revolution.

Revolutions are never easy. If they were, we’d just call them change.

Without a base of optimism, revolutions fail.

We are ridiculously optimistic, in fact, about the future of business.

Fundamentally, Focus orients Decision Making and Action and Power fuels Decision Making and Action — furthermore, being more digital, clear, fluid, and fast will usher in a new era for leadership, management, and business.

Don’t miss the ridiculously optimistic future of businessWhen Millennials Take Over!

Thoughts on PACIFIC EXPRESS

December 13, 2014

Alex Yakyma‘s and Dean Leffingwell‘s PACIFIC EXPRESS is described as a “short story” of an “initial SAFe adoption” that focuses on the “courageous people that drive change” and offers a format to “see and feel the people and culture aspects of SAFe”.

Essentially, it hints or suggests that a Quickstart — including “preparation” to “work with teams to re-align them to a common process model,” plan a “first Program Increment” or “release planning session,” and an opportunity to “dig deeper into the advanced topics of how to operate at scale” — is a “transformation process” (emphasis added):

“My understanding is that the whole notion of the Train revolves around delivering visible, tangible value; and I think that’s exactly what we need,” said Stephanie [client in the story] getting us back on track. “Tell us what we need to do. What does the transformation process look like?”

“We call it a Quickstart,” I [Ryan, consultant, trainer and enterprise coach] said. “The primary action happens over the course of one week and is normally preceded by careful preparation and then some follow up. During that week, I will work with teams to re–‐align them to a common process model, that’s the first two days. Then, for the next two days, we will plan our first Program Increment: PI for short. Roughly speaking, you can think of it as a release planning session. And finally, the last day can be used for Product Owners and Scrum Masters to dig deeper into the advanced topics of how to operate at scale. The Quickstart is just a kick‐off for you guys, but should provide enough momentum to drive the transformation.”

The story starts with the “preparation”, which was quite minimized, both regarding actual duration and activities:

Tomorrow is a really big day — we start our two-day release planning session and much will depend on how that goes. The preparation took two weeks — a very busy two weeks — not an uncommon thing when a program initiates this process for the first time. And not everything went as smoothly as expected… as if it ever does at scale. [. . . agree on the cadence, frequent integration, organizational structure, program priorities, the remainder of the areas, etc.]

While the story focuses on Lean, Lean-Agile Leaders, and Leadership in Lean Software Development, it disappoints in suggesting or implying that a mere presentation of “What Do I Do as Lean-Agile Leader” (in the story) is enough to shift a culture from “managing to enabling teams”:

The principal force behind these dozens of bullet points is the switch from managing to enabling teams. And since enabling teams is what we are after, we naturally arrive at a gazillion aspects of the Leader role. As you shift your thinking and start looking for the bottlenecks that prevent the Train from fast delivery of value to the business, you arrive at more and more things like that. Take a look at these again…” I browsed through the presentation once again, pausing a few seconds on each slide. “Do you think teams can do any of these on their own?”

However, the story ultimately redeems itself somewhat by emphasizing that transformation is a journey and that a “quickstart” is not the whole journey (emphasis added):

Our initial sessions, including the PI planning, were not the transformation itself. There is a reason why it is called Quickstart. In fact, it is only the beginning of a learning journey that knows no end.

And the story further disappoints in not offering anything beyond itself regarding this “learning journey” and not exploring the distinction between Dynamics and Mechanics, for a more formidable and proven approach to transformation, see Scaling Agility with Conscious Agility & SAFe, DAD, LeSS, Agility Path, or ScrumPLoP as well as Constructively (rather than Destructively) Adopting and Sustaining the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

Change: From Programs to Platforms [LinkedIn]

November 28, 2014

In Build a change platform, not a change program” (McKinsey & Company, Insights & Publications, October 2014), Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini suggest that “continuous improvement requires the creation of change platforms, rather than change programs.” (read more)

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