Our world is changing. A global pandemic, wars, climate change, labour and material shortages, and ‘techceleration’ have disrupted businesses around the world. This Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) have become the new normal. The pace at which managers must move to keep ahead of the ever-changing landscape is increasing and amidst all this, we still need to deliver projects, programs and portfolios that create value. The new challenges we face need new thinking, we need to evolve our methods if we are going to keep pace with the increasing demands of a VUCA world.
In response to these challenges, it is not surprising that there has been an increase in project management literature focussing on resilience. The core idea of resilience is recovery after a disruption. To have resilience is to be able to regain any value that was lost as a result of the disruption. To be resilient is to ‘bounce back’, to be ‘as good as you were before’. But recovering what you lost is a net zero-sum game, in essence, you are no better off after the disruption than before it occurred.
This paper challenges the idea that project resilience should be our goal. This paper will explore Taleb’s (2012) theory of Antifragility and explain how ‘recovering’ after a disruption is not the best outcome we can aspire to, rather gaining value as a result of the disruption should be our goal.
This paper will outline the Antifragility continuum, look at how to create value through disruption, examine some strategies for Antifragility in the context of projects and demonstrate how Antifragility can help us evolve both the theory and practice of project management.