I had been working for 5 years to develop my capacity to help everyday businesses transform into regenerative businesses. Ever since hearing the term ‘Regenerative’ in 2005, I wanted clear guidance on how to design change – first for landscapes, then for education, then for enterprise. I had read parts of Carol Sanford’s other books (The Responsible Business and The Responsible Entrepreneur), and everything I heard about this book had my expectations high.
How “The Regenerative Business” Changed My Life
Wow. The Regenerative Business did not disappoint. More than any of Carol’s previous books, it offered clear step-by-step processes and a master framework for transforming a business. I immediately put the book’s contents to work in my strategic role at HowGood, and was able to see 30 other businesses applying the principles at the 2017 Regenerative Business Summit… I think this book is going to move the world.
I was working on the pitch decks for Regenerative Real Estate, the unsuccessful GIS-driven agricultural real estate company we started to scale up regenerative agriculture. My business partner at the time called and said, “You have to read this book.” I finally had a chance to dig into Taleb’s third book (Antifragile is part of the ‘Incerto’ Series, written after “Fooled by Randomness” and “The Black Swan”) as I travelled in Viet Nam and Taiwan, perfectly complex and chaotic eco-cultural systems in which to ruminate on fragility, resilience, and regeneration.
How “Antifragile” Changed My Life
I’m going to give away the core of the book right now. Answer this question: What is the opposite of ‘fragile’?
For 99% off people I’ve asked, the responses are invariably “strong” or “sturdy” or “resilient” or “robust”. But none of these are the opposite of fragile. If I drop a beautiful ceramic bowl, and it breaks, then it was fragile. If I drop the same bowl and it stays intact, then it was resilient. (Definition of resilient = able to withstand shocks and maintain function.) But resilience is the mid-point on a continuum, not the opposite!
So what would happen to the bowl if it was the opposite of fragile? When it hit the ground, instead of breaking or maintaining itself, it would get stronger. This is antifragility: systems whose capabilities increase in times of stress or disturbance.
“Antifragile” opened my eyes to an unseen characteristic and capacity of the world around me. Our immune systems are antifragile. Entrepreneurship as a whole is antifragile. Some political and governance systems (e.g. Switzerland, many indigenous cultures) are antifragile.
Going forward, my work was to design systems for antifragility. What does antifragile agriculture look like? How can an antifragile business be designed? What principles and agreements grow antifragility in human relationships?
I’ll write more on all of these. Plus, the relationship between antifragility and regeneration. In the meantime, I strongly recommend you read this book.
I was building the new structure, systems, and impact of Terra Genesis International. We were working with a multinational cosmetics company to transform their supply “chain”, focusing on regenerative agriculture and permaculture farming around the world. It was an immersion into international business and the inner mechanics of the global economy. I needed insight to navigate the complexity, from someone who had deep experience in this realm.
How “The Responsible Business” Changed My Life
With the foreword by the Chairman of Bank of America, it was immediately clear that this book was not written by some small-time startup consultant. The stories of large-scale business transformation gave me striking depth into how global corporations can work at their best. I could see how a focus on business essence could lead to positive systems change. And the book’s core framework (the 5 Stakeholders of a Responsible Business) gave me immediate practical insight on how a company could turn it’s eyes outwards and see how to change its effect in the world.
When I finished the book, I felt empowered to transform any business. The process would not be fast or easy (for my company, or the businesses we were working with), but the path was clear.
Wow. The more ancient Indo-European source of Greek and Roman myths. A historical-mythical missing link from the little-known Caucuses mountains (where we get the word “Caucasians). This book rocked my concepts about “white” ancestry and opened a whole new path of inquiry about the origins of our current situation.
You’ve got to dig deep into the footnotes to grok the significance of these stories, but it’s worth it.