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View From The Top: Gaining From Disorder

  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb had written in his book ‘Antifragile’ that resilient parties would be able to sustain and resist shocks, but those who are antifragile get better and that a system would be better in quality, competence and capability as a result of shock and stressors. The precarious ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic induced India's socio-economic landscape to be recalibrated in an unprecedented manner and at an urgent pace. An antifragile company is like a muscle. Bodybuilders or athletes know that muscles can tear or wear due to overexertion or stress, but they also know that the injured muscles regenerate and build right back up; stronger than ever before. During the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all our daily activities suddenly transitioned to a digital model, be it shopping, working, playing or reading. Many organizations have profited from this transition owing to a major rise in demand, but it also meant that this unprecedented high demand could have easily imploded a company that was too fragile to endure this change. Instead, a few companies leveraged their diversified business portfolio and rapid adaptability to seize the moment and emerge stronger. Yet, like a balloon overfilled with water, some companies imploded because they were too fragile to get used to this change. Still, many have come out of it, better than before to emerge more robust. The odds are, decades from now, these institutions would still thrive, irrespective of fluctuations in the economy and any other unforeseen outlier events. Antifragility is about making sure that one's organization thrives for decades, regardless of any changes in the economy, be it highs or lows. But as with any desirable quality, it comes at a price, making the decision less straightforward. Experts posit that ‘antifragility’ brings long term benefits but at the expense of short term profit optimization. What are the strategies for future-proof businesses? How can businesses focus more on antifragility today than mere resilience to deal with continued industry uncertainty and disruption? To discuss this in detail, we spoke with Sanjeev Bikchandani, co-founder of Inside Edge, Dev Khare, partner at Lightspeed India and Karthik Reddy, co-founder and managing partner at Blume Ventures. Sanjeev believes that for organizations and businesspersons to attempt to be anti-fragile, the first thing they would have to do is be slightly paranoid and to be ready to take action when unforeseen circumstances hit because to be forewarned is to be forearmed. He believes his portfolio was able to remain profitable was to stress-test his organization, emblematic of antifragile companies that can endure stressors and shocks, and employ a worst-case scenario with zero revenue and zero market expenditure and ascertain how long they would sustain and it was also a bonus that they were diversified. Dev added that many businesses in India had their demand explode and augment to new horizons, such as social media, entertainment and online education. They had to expand at a quick pace and they were able to do so because they had those systems in place due to their fluid scale-out capacity as well as decentralized decision making and having a broad definition of their businesses to take in new lines of business. Karthik opined that this may not be the case for smaller businesses trying to be antifragile for they were on a sinusoidal path with lots of ups and downs, so they could acclimate more to the emotional highs and lows of these unprecedented changes. Watch the discussion to know more.
 
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