Friday, February 1, 2019

Three Practices to Enforce “Antifragility” of the Digital Organization

Business is a system, antifragility is a property of systems that increase in adaptability, flexibility, resilience, or robustness as a result of stressors, shocks, volatility, disruptions, or faults. 

Digitalization is not equal to digital information or technology only. At the high maturity level, organizations have to stretch out in every business dimension for driving radical business transformation and exhibiting distinct characteristics in various shades and intensity. The more effortlessly you can align, integrate, harmonize, and optimize the important business factors inside an organization, the closer you can accelerate performance and lead changes effectively. Business is a system, antifragility is a property of systems that increase in adaptability, flexibility, resilience, or robustness as a result of stressors, shocks, volatility, disruptions, or faults. The digital organizations with ‘antifragile’ characteristic can better survive and thrive in volatility and uncertainty of digital dynamic. Here are three practices to enforce antifragility of the digital organization.

Look for optionality: Digital is the era of options, empathy, personalization, and sharing. The digital organization is more like the organic living thing with its unique identity and strength, in part because ways of doing business and customer expectations both tend to be more flexible than the siloed industrial age. Nowadays, uncertainty and risks are inherent in the marketplace. The anti-fragile loves randomness and uncertainty, which means crucially, a love of errors, allowing organizations to deal with the unknown and deal with changes smoothly. Looking for optionality is all about figuring out alternative ways to do things. Antifragile needs to select what’s the best option. Therefore, to build “antifragility,” today’s business leaders and managers should look at creating digital options for providing organizations with the ability to explore new business opportunities and mitigate risks. They refuse to be bound by constraints and limitations and pursue possibilities rather than impossibilities. The “antifragile” organizations embrace interdisciplinary knowledge, diverse perspectives, and innovative ways to solve many existing and emerging problems. They develop problem-solving competency by doing better pre-work, such as defining the situation and the "success criteria," taking consideration of the range of options, rather than the traditional "jump to solution" problem-solving scenario. By grasping the mechanisms of antifragility, people can build a systematic and broad guide to non-predictive decision making under uncertainty in business and life in general. Such businesses show much better abilities to tolerate volatility or even thrive from it,

Preferably with open-ended, not closed-ended approach: Do not focus on hierarchies but on ideas, innovation, openness, and problem-solving. Antifragility goes beyond resilience or robustness. From a business management perspective, digital leaders need to be dynamic people with vision, openness, inquisitiveness, and growth mindset to find more viewing spots than the rest. The managers and employees should figure out how to frame the open-ended questions to attract great feedback, constructive criticism, and fresh ideas. Innovation becomes possible only if people can keep their curiosity to ask the open-ended “Why, Why Not, What If...” questions. From an organizational structure perspective, centralized, decentralized, and hybrid models can all work given the proper planning and management focus to keep them fine-tuned for improving and being flexible, and build antifragility. Technically, organizational design (structure, which includes policy) must be adaptable, take advantage of the latest digital technology platforms & tools, and provide the open culture for people to develop their professional competencies, exercise their creativity, and unleash collective potential. Logically, an organization can approach the flow zone when the positions in its hierarchy have clear and accountable tasks and people both individually or collectively, can unlock their performance.

Do not just invest in business plans but in people: Organizations are complex adaptive living systems, which are comprised, in part, of people (sub-systems) who are also sophisticated adaptive living systems. All such systems function, grow and prosper by continually learning, innovating, adapting, and evolving. The anti-fragile and high mature digital business can provide a more intensive and creative working environment enabling the organization to get all the right people with the right capabilities in the right position to solve the right problems from right angles. People have to be ready for moving to a fluid structure, hyper-connected digital platforms, the dynamic business state and get used to the vibrant digital ecosystem. People are the most critical business asset and capital to invest on. Companies scale their growth around tangible asset models. Develop collective workforce capabilities so that they can do more for the organization, and keep the business robust, flexible and innovative. People should be the center of digital management and they are the major focus for innovation processes and accomplishment.

If a digital organization has anti-fragile characteristics, it can have much better ability to tolerate volatility or even thrive from it. Antifragility can be enforced by recognizing the interdependence of the digital business, improving the organizational adaptability, and harnessing business flexibility and versatility. Antifragility equals more to gain than to lose; equals more upside than downside; equals asymmetry, likes volatility; and if you make more when you are right than you hurt when you are wrong, then you will benefit in the long run from volatility and thrive with the unprecedented uncertainty and ambiguity.


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