Home > technical > Hopping On The Anti-Fragile Bandwagon

Hopping On The Anti-Fragile Bandwagon

Since Martin Fowler works there, I thought ThoughtWorks Inc. must be great. However, after watching two of his fellow ThoughtWorkers give a talk titled “From Agility To Anti-Fragility“, I’m having second thoughts. The video was a relatively lame attempt to jam-fit Nassim Taleb’s authentic ideas on anti-fragility into the software development process. Expectedly, near the end of the talk the presenters introduced their “new” process for making your borg anti-fragile: “Continuous Delivery/Discovery/Design“. Lookie here, it even has a superscript in its title:


Having read Mr. Taleb’s four fascinating books, the one hour and twenty-six minute talk was essentially a synopsis of his latest book, “Anti-Fragile“. That was the good part. The ThoughtWorkers’ attempts to concoct techniques that supposedly add anti-fragility to the software development process introduced nothing new. They simply interlaced a few crummy slides with well-known agile practices (small teams, no specialists, short increments, co-located teams, etc) with the good slides explaining optionality, black/grey swans, convexity vs concavity, hormesis, and levels of randomness.

smug consultant

  1. February 13, 2014 at 3:18 am

    Woah! you got a favourite from Taleb!
    The closest I got was a minor correction. I still re-read it fondly.

    i’ve also had a mildly irritated email from seth godin about a tweet i did saying he was wrong.

    • February 13, 2014 at 4:14 am

      Hah. Of course, I just had to broadcast the fact by pasting the favorite into a blog post 🙂

      I remember the last 2 posts you wrote regarding Seth Godin’s comments. I can’t remember if I agreed with you, but getting a response from him means that you hit a point that made him pause and reflect.

      I’ve also had a couple of tweet-spats with the great and revered Tom Peters, the master of the obvious.

  2. February 13, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I’m a great believer in process – when people know what’s expected, things run better. That being said, I despair of the way most turn into dogma. Process, IMO, should be the set of practices that work best in your current context (which someone writing a book cannot possibly know about) and when that context changes, the practices should be adjusted and communicated. Any process that can’t handle deviance for a valid reason is incredibly fragile (not to mention dangerous).

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