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Do you find yourself fixing the same problems again and again?

Have you invested enormous effort in a promising new process or technology, only to find your people just as frustrated?

Or you feel like you’re constantly improving, but somehow important results don’t quite improve?

Many business leaders, including startup founders, department heads and CEOs, find themselves stuck in this cycle. Maybe even you.

Escaping the cycle is surprisingly simple.

But first, a quick story about the three buckets.

Everything Fits Into One of Three Buckets

Whether you’re talking about a physical thing, or a system, or an organization, all the stuff we interact with in a given day is one of these three:

Fragile - Think of a ceramic cup. Ordinary use doesn’t change it and it stays like new for a long time. It might seem like it could last forever until one day… it falls off the table.

Fragile things seem perfect until the moment they break under stress. Lots of things are like that.

Robust - Like the table your tea cup was on. You have to apply a lot of force to break it. It still works if you scratch it, or the finish wears off, but with heavy use it will deteriorate and eventually need to be replaced.

Robust things can resist stress-- maybe they even seem better when “broken in,” but only to a point.

Now, something you might find interesting.

Antifragile - These kinds of things don’t act like the others. They aren’t static, like a tea cup or table - they are dynamic and can improve and change.

Antifragile things do not deteriorate with daily use, rather they decline when NOT in use. In fact, the tougher the treatment, the better they become.

Muscles are antifragile - weakening while idle and strengthening under stress.

If you’re like most people, you might be asking yourself:

Which bucket do I fit into? Where does my organization fit?

That’s natural, everybody does. Because even though people and most living things are antifragile by nature, we don’t always act like it. Sometimes, we even act like we’re fragile, and our organizations do, too.

Things we make, break. But they don’t have to.