Antifragility clean conference-2013

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David Grove was a master of seizing the moment, turning a slip into an opportunity, the mundane into the sacred, the bizarre into the extraordinary, the idiosyncratic into the optimal. How? By being antifragile. It didn't matter what the client said or did David made use of it in their best interest. He loved ambiguity, mis-hearings, puns, non sequiturs and synchronicity. David facilitated from 'the edge of chaos’ – that thin strip of existence between order and randomness where life and creativity thrive.

After David Grove died in 2008, the person who has most influenced Penny Tompkins and my thinking is Nassim Nicholas Taleb. His first book, Fooled By Randomness exposed the challenge we have understanding the effects of chance. He followed this with The Black Swan, which showed why  large-scale but rare and unpredictable events have a much greater effect than all the small, common and predictable events put together. Taleb's most recent book, Antifragile, goes further. It explores how it is possible to be more than resilient, to make non-predictive decisions under uncertainty, and to relate to the unknown without attempting to understand or control it.

Learning by avoiding mistakes is fragile. Learning by trial and error is robust. Learning by trial and feedback is antifragile. 

But what does this have to Symbolic Modelling and other clean approaches? Just about everything. 

As facilitators we have to make many quick decisions. Decisions based on top-down theoretical methodologies are fragile. Decisions that use experience-based heuristics are robust. And there is an antifragile class of bottom-up decision making that relies on serendipity, mistakes, the unexpected, and stochastic tinkering. My metaphor for this is it's like surfing blind. 

And Taleb's ideas are not just useful to facilitators. I think you will see they have much to say about everyday life as well.

If you would like some reading from the man himself, Taleb has kindly made the prologue of his new book available as a free download: 
http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/prologue.pdf

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Antifragility clean conference-2013

  1. 1. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Clean Conference 2013 ! Antifragility,  Black Swans and Befriending Uncertainty ! James Lawley 1
  2. 2. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Presentation Preamble ! David Grove was a master of seizing the moment, turning a slip into an opportunity, the mundane into the sacred, the bizarre into the extraordinary, the idiosyncratic into the optimal. How? By being antifragile. It didn't matter what the client said or did David made use of it in their best interest. He loved ambiguity, mis-hearings, puns, non sequiturs and synchronicity. David facilitated from 'the edge of chaos’ – that thin strip of existence between order and randomness where life and creativity thrive. ! After David Grove died in 2008, the person who has most influenced Penny Tompkins and my thinking is Nassim Nicholas Taleb. His first book, Fooled By Randomness exposed the challenge we have understanding the effects of chance. He followed this with The Black Swan, which showed why  large-scale but rare and unpredictable events have a much greater effect than all the small, common and predictable events put together. Taleb's most recent book, Antifragile, goes further. It explores how it is possible to be more than resilient, to make non-predictive decisions under uncertainty, and to relate to the unknown without attempting to understand or control it. ! Learning by avoiding mistakes is fragile. Learning by trial and error is robust. Learning by trial and feedback is antifragile.  ! But what does this have to Symbolic Modelling and other clean approaches? Just about everything. As facilitators we have to make many quick decisions. Decisions based on top-down theoretical methodologies are fragile. Decisions that use experience- based heuristics are robust. And there is an antifragile class of bottom-up decision making that relies on serendipity, mistakes, the unexpected, and stochastic tinkering. My metaphor for this is it's like surfing blind.  ! And Taleb's ideas are not just useful to facilitators. I think you will see they have much to say about everyday life as well. ! If you would like some preparatory reading, Taleb has kindly made the prologue of his new book available as a free download:  http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/prologue.pdf 2
  3. 3. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos: you want to use them, not hide from them. ! You want to be the fire and wish for the wind. Taleb, Antifragile, p.3 3
  4. 4. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 4
  5. 5. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 There is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. ! Let us call it antifragile. Taleb, Antifragile, p.3 5
  6. 6. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Antifragility and fragility are degrees on a spectrum. ! FRAGILE ---- ROBUST --- ANTIFRAGILE Taleb, Antifragile, p.4 6
  7. 7. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. ! The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; ! the antifragile gets better. Taleb, Antifragile, p.3 7
  8. 8. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Anatomy of Fragile - Robust - Antifragile Systems Taleb, Antifragile, p.426 8
  9. 9. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Example of a Fragile Bank Taleb, Antifragile, p.426 9
  10. 10. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Post traumatic growth - the opposite of PTSD. ! Those from whom we have benefitted the most aren’t those who have tried to help us (say with “advice”) but rather those who have actively tried – but eventually failed – to harm us Taleb, Antifragile, p.53 10
  11. 11. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Antifragile headline message to Malaysian government in online newspaper, Nutgraph: ! “You do your worst. We’ll do our best.” Dr. Soong Kua ! Lawley, 2013 11
  12. 12. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 The antifragile loves randomness and uncertainty, ! which also means – crucially – a love of a certain class of errors. Taleb, Antifragile, p.4 12
  13. 13. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Fragility and antifragility are part of the current property of an object [or] system. ! [i.e. the capacity to respond to unspecified future events.] Taleb, Antifragile, p.9 13
  14. 14. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Antifragility has a singular property of allowing us to deal with the unknown, to do things without understanding them – and to do them well. Taleb, Antifragile, p.4 14
  15. 15. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 [Antifragility is needed] anywhere the unknown preponderates, any situation in which there is randomness, unpredictability, opacity, or incomplete understanding of things. Taleb, Antifragile, p.4 15
  16. 16. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 By grasping the mechanisms of antigratility we can build a systematic and broad guide to nonpredictive decision making under uncertainty. Taleb, Antifragile, p.4 16
  17. 17. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 The fragile wants tranquility. ! The antifragile grows from disorder, ! the robust doesn’t care too much.. Taleb, Antifragile, p.20 17
  18. 18. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 It is far easier to figure out if something is fragile than to predict the occurrence of an event that may harm it. Taleb, Antifragile, p.4 18
  19. 19. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Fragility can be measured; ! risk is not measurable. Taleb, Antifragile, p.4 19
  20. 20. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 When it comes to random events, “robust” is certainly not good enough. ! we need a mechanism by which a system regenerates itself continuously by using, rather than suffering from, random events, unpredictable shocks, stressors, and volatility. Taleb, Antifragile, p.8 20
  21. 21. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Black Swans are large-scale unpredictable and irregular events of massive consequence. Taleb, Antifragile, p.6 21
  22. 22. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Most of history comes from Black Swan events, ! while we worry about fine-tuning our understanding of the ordinary. Taleb, Antifragile, p.6 22
  23. 23. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Black Swans hijack our brains, because they are retrospectively explainable. ! We don’t realize the role of Swans because of this illusion of predictability. Taleb, Antifragile, p.6 23
  24. 24. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Robust or resilient is neither harmed nor helped by volatility and disorder, ! while the antifragile benefits from them. ! Taleb, Antifragile, p.17 24
  25. 25. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Ovid [said] difficulty is what wakes up the genius. ! Taleb, Antifragile, p.42 25
  26. 26. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Antifragility is the property of all those natural (and complex) systems that have survived, ! depriving these systems of the volatility, randomness, and stressors will harm them. ! They will weaken, die, or blow up. Taleb, Antifragile, p.5 26
  27. 27. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Much of our modern, structured, world has been harming us with top-down policies and contraptions ! – an insult to the antifragility of systems. Taleb, Antifragile, p.5 27
  28. 28. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Everything top-down fragilizes and blocks antifragility and growth, ! everything bottom-up thrives under the right amount of stress and disorder. Taleb, Antifragile, p.5 28
  29. 29. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Taleb, Antifragile, pp.23-27 Fragile Robust Antifragile Systems Efficiency, optimized Component Redundancy Functional Redundancy Regulation Rules Principles Virtue Knowledge Academia Expertise Erudition Science Theory Phenomenology Evidenced-based phenomenology Research Directed research Opportunistic research Stochastic tinkering Errors Hates mistakes. Large, rare errors => blowups Mistakes are just information Loves reversible, small errors. Black Swan Exposed to negative Black Swans Exposed to +ve Black Swans - maximizes serendipity. 29
  30. 30. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Taleb, Antifragile, pp.23-27 Fragile Robust Antifragile General Large Small but specialized Small but not specialized Ethics No skin in the game Skin in the game Soul in the game Human body Mollification, atrophy Recovery Hormesis Human relationships Friendship Kinship Attraction Psychology Post-traumatic stress Post-traumatic growth Economic life Bureaucrat. Academic. Corporate executive. Politician. Owner occupier. Truck driver. Postal employee. Entrepreneur. Taxi driver. Artist. Writer. 30
  31. 31. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 The process of discovery (or innovation, or technological progress) itself depends on antifragile tinkering, rather than formal education. Taleb, Antifragile, p.5 31
  32. 32. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Complex systems are full of hard to detect interdependencies – and nonlinear responses. ! “Nonlinear” means simple causal associations are misplaced Taleb, Antifragile, p.7 32
  33. 33. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 “Sadly, there are no effective methods for solving general nonlinear problems. ! Even simple looking problems with a few variables can be extremely challenging.” Convex Optimization, Stephen Boyd, Lieven Vandenberghe p.11 33
  34. 34. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 However, “There are some simple heuristics, based on convex optimization, that often finds fairly sparse solutions.” Convex Optimization, Stephen Boyd, Lieven Vandenberghe p.11 34
  35. 35. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 First find a general solution using “global optimization” - that may be non-optimal but it creates a starting point for a “local optimisation”. i.e. get in the right ballpark first and then workout how to find your seat. Be prepared to compromise efficiency to maximise effectiveness. i.e. hold back from fully solving the problem. Convex Optimization, Stephen Boyd, Lieven Vandenberghe p.11 35
  36. 36. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 A complex system does not require complicated systems and regulations and intricate policies. The simpler, the better. Complications [and interventions] lead to multiplicative chains of unanticipated effects. ! Less is more and usually more effective. Taleb, Antifragile, p.11 36
  37. 37. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Complex systems are not understandable. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Don’t try – Avoid interfering with what you don’t understand. 37
  38. 38. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Complex systems are not understandable. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Don’t try – Avoid theories, in the absence of local evidence use tried & tested heuristics. 38
  39. 39. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: There is always enough happening. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: You don’t need to add anything 39
  40. 40. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: There is always enough happening. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: You don’t need to make anything happen. 40
  41. 41. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: In complex systems, “causes” are usually impossible to isolate Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Don’t try – Pay attention to the pattern in the signs 41
  42. 42. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: People & Systems are complex enough Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Make minimal interventions 42
  43. 43. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: People & Systems are complex enough Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Keep your interventions simple. 43
  44. 44. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Top-down interventions fragilize Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Use bottom-up approaches 44
  45. 45. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Complex systems are not predictable. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Don’t try – Use nonpredictive decision-making. 45
  46. 46. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Complex systems are not predictable. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Don’t try – Use stochastic tinkering (Iterative trial and feedback) 46
  47. 47. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Complex systems are not predictable. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Don’t try – Maximise serendipity. 47
  48. 48. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Complex systems are not predictable. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Don’t try – Develop a ‘nose’ for potential change. 48
  49. 49. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Complex systems are not predictable. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Don’t try – Utilise opportunities resulting from ‘errors’ and ‘mistakes’. 49
  50. 50. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Fixed goals and plans fragilize. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Cultivate conditions and respond to what happens. 50
  51. 51. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Fixed goals and plans fragilize. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Work with dynamic reference points. 51
  52. 52. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Randomness happens randomly. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Utilse, utilise, utilse variation. 52
  53. 53. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 PRINCIPLE: Randomness happens randomly. Lawley, 2013 PRACTICE: Utilse surprise. 53
  54. 54. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Simplicity is not so simple to attain. ! Steve Jobs figured out that “you have to work hard to get your thinking clean and to make it simple”. Taleb, Antifragile, p.11 54
  55. 55. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Symbolic Modelling involves working with emergent properties, fuzzy categories, apparently illogical causal relations, multiple levels of simultaneous and systemic processes, iterative cycles and unexpected twists and turns. In short, especially during the early stages, the client’s information is intrinsically unpredictable and messy. Lawley & Tompkins, Metaphors in Mind, p.46 55
  56. 56. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 FACILITATORS NEED TO OPERATE FROM A STATE OF ‘NOT KNOWING’ Lawley & Tompkins, Metaphors in Mind, p.45 56
  57. 57. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 While clients always have the capacity to change and evolve, when, how and why a particular Metaphor Landscape reorganises is inherently indeterminate. Lawley & Tompkins, Metaphors in Mind, p.45-46 57
  58. 58. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 IS THERE A RELATIONSHIP? Lawley Fragile No desire for change Problem Robust Desire to return to ‘normal’ Remedy Antifragile Desire to create something new Outcome 58
  59. 59. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Novice Expert Competent Proficient Beginner Rule-based Techniques Top-down Modelling Bottom-up Modelling The Dreyfus and Dreyfus ‘Novice to Expert’ Model Lawley, 2006 59
  60. 60. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 [There is often a] tradeoff between the antifragility of the collective and the fragility of the individual. ! [i.e. between the symbol and the landscape] Taleb, Antifragile, p.18 60
  61. 61. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Antifragilizing Groups - I ! Recruit people who: - Have a track record - Encourage others - Like experimenting & feedback - Are cross-domain thinkers - Are open to learn this approach Lawley, 2013 61
  62. 62. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Antifragilizing Groups - II ! Cultivate conditions that: - Maximise serendioity - Foster the following of hunches - Encourage small failures - Increase connectivity of diverse thinkers - Apply to all levels of organisation - Apply code congruency Lawley, 2013 62
  63. 63. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 A Model for Maxising Serendipity Lawley, 2008 63 E+1 Recognise Potential E Unexpected Event E-1 Prepared Mind E+2 Seize the Moment E+3 Amplify Effects E+4 Evaluate Effects Iterative circularity
  64. 64. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 Layers of redundancy are the central risk management property of natural systems ! Redundancy is ambiguous because it seems like a waste if nothing happens. ! Except that something unusual happens – usually. Taleb, Antifragile, p.44 & 45 64
  65. 65. James Lawley, Antifragility, Clean Conference 2013 To dare to look our ignorance in the face and be aggressively and proudly human may require some structural changes. Taleb, Antifragile, p.11 65

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