Guest Post by Brad Herbert, Originally Published as Antifragile on January 31, 2013 – My colleague Barbara Gray, an Equity Analyst for Brady Capital Research, is heavily focused on how socially conscious organizations will thrive in an increasingly volatile world while traditionally managed companies will appear and fade away more quickly than the past.
In her latest blog post, she mentions an interesting concept called Antifragile which is the concept that chaos is actually required in natural systems to foster improvements and resiliency. Her belief is that companies that truly follow their values and comprehensively “do good” in the world through their practices will, over time, be more successful because consumers will seek them out and invest in ongoing relationships, and because the organizations will have better insight, and perhaps, stronger permission to experiment and therefore stay relevant. In other words, in a world where volatility is the norm, people are seeking out organizations that align with their values as a way of gaining some degree of certainty.
Right now the conventional thinking, especially by equity analysts, is that success stories of socially conscious companies are the exception and that it becomes impossible to scale these types of practices through highly focused organizational development investments.
My belief is that this is the new way of working and people are slow to adjust or accept because there is so many habits, capital, thinking, and process around the “old way”. Globalization has created a giant race to the bottom for organizations that simply try to compete on price, so the true leadership call these days is around authenticity, integrity, and connection and how those can create a sustainable advantage (i.e., antifragile).
So what’s authenticity for an organization? It’s leaders being clear about their personal values and building (or joining) an organization that is a natural extension of them. Integrity is about consciously choosing to do business in a particular way so that the values are in alignment with the actions. Finally, being in connection as an organization is about being in a trusting, mutually beneficial relationship with your stakeholders in ways big and small. This is no small point; a transaction is not a relationship and many business people truly struggle with the notion that they are in a relationship with work colleagues, suppliers, vendors, etc.
I’m consulting with a great company called LYFE Kitchen Retail that is focused on improving the health of North America by making nutritious, delicious, and convenient fresh and frozen food available via grocery and club stores. It’s a fascinating journey to build a company that aligns with the Founder’s vision and values and doing it in a way that is, well, antifragile. We are seeing a huge increase in interest in our brand and products precisely because people want a company like ours to succeed, but also because people want to see a broader change in how the world operates.
I’d love to hear from others who are exploring what antifragile means to their organization.