Fragility, Resilience and AntiFragility in Risk

One of the realities of risk and fallibility is understanding that the less exposure to risk, the less one learns, the less one experiences and the more fragile one becomes.

Indeed, excessive fear of risk leads to even greater fragility, till eventually the outcome becomes much more dangerous that the thing that was feared. A good example of this is the growing resistance to antibiotics (

Nothing is more delusional than the ideology of zero ( for creating unnecessary fear of risk, fragility and anti-resilience. The only way to really become robust in the face of risk is to embrace risk and learn from it. Fallibility is the invitation and opportunity for learning, becoming antifragile (Taleb and developing resilience.

Not all protection is inherently ‘good’.

The overuse of antibiotics has now created much greater fragility in the population. As we read in this article above: ‘Multi-drug resistance contributed to almost 5 million deaths in 2019, according to the WHO, and directly killed another 1.29 million people.’ – Zero harm indeed. Even when Safety can count in the millions, it still prefers petty risk.

In SPoR, we have a model and semiotic that helps explain the problem (See Figure 1 Fragile, Resilient and AntiFragile). Those who are fragile stand on the edge of the chasm and don’t jump, for fear of risk and harm. This is why this semiotic is used on all the covers of all books written in SPoR (

Figure 1 Fragile, Resilient and AntiFragile

Those who are resilient make a leap (of faith) and learn from that leap. This is known as ‘double loop learning’ that doesn’t fear risk or error and learns from it.

Then there are those who are AntiFragile and this is known as ‘Triple Loop Learning’ ( In Triple Loop Learning we learn from learning and embrace what educators know as ‘meta-learning’. Nothing inhibits learning more than fear, anxiety and over-protection. These is the by-products of zero ideology.

Zero sits on the side of the chasm, evaluates the risk and its uncertainty and, in the face of uncertainty, doesn’t jump. This is why zero promotes anti-learning. There will be no learning at a zero=safety congress!

Taleb demonstrated years ago just how this dynamic works and why the goal of Antifragility is best for fallible humans.

Our colleague in SPoR Dr Craig Ashhurst, has developed a semiotic that helps explain Triple Loop Learning (see Figure 2. Triple Loop Learning):

Figure 2. Triple Loop Learning

It is from a foundation of Triple Loop Learning that we develop AntiFragility and resilience. And when we are this space we can better ‘Manage the Unexpected’ (Weick –

We live in such an age of Radical Uncertainty (Kay & King, what some know as a VUCA world (, that the nonsense language of zero simply symbolises the most profound stupidity.

As our colleague Max Geyer wrote so well years ago: Building resilience trumps the prevention of harm (

The real dilemma for zero=safety is the encouragement of risk aversion ( and Fragility. Couple this to things like ‘tick and flick’ culture and no wonder that there is a spike in fatalities in the Mining sector that only understands safety as injury rates, engineering and behaviourism.

Similarly, over regulation and the excesses of safety (such as encouraging safety obsession) simply create a greater delusion of the existence of safety in workplaces (Greg Smith:–765717814). In reality, most workplace are simply Papersafe (

Head-in-the-sand safety=zero is a recipe for Fragility yet remains the global mantra for an industry that doesn’t know how to manage binary entrapment questions, the reality of injury rates or fallibility nor how to be ethical or professional.

  • Poor olde Safety, noisy about petty risk whilst ignoring critical risk (
  • Poor olde Safety, counting injury rates and policing regulation and projecting propaganda about innovation and learning.
  • Poor olde Safety, looking for ‘thought leadership’ in repetition of more of the same, in fear of learning, diversity and critical thinking.

However, if you want to understand how to reject zero, improve safety and embrace Triple Loop Learning and Antifragility you can:

Study here:

Download free books here:

Listen to podcasts here:

Watch Videos here:;

Or request a free zoom demo from Matt Thorne or a face-to-face demo:


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