Antifragile Systems for Innovation and Learning Organizations

Keith Swenson, Fujitsu America Inc. What does it take to make an antifragile system for supporting innovative work? Fragile systems break when unexpected things happen. Robust systems remain stable in the face of uncertainty. Antifragile systems actually get better due to the occurrence of unpredictable things. A good human organization is antifragile because it gets stronger in the face of a challenge, but how then can we make systems to support this? IT systems in the past have been blamed for calcifying aspects of an organization, making it harder to change. How can we apply the Cynefin framework of knowledge management: known, knowable, complex and chaos? While many systems are designed to be “fail-safe” how can systems be designed around “safe-fail” principles in order to allow for learning? How do we support innovation and creative work which cannot be predicted in advance? Attention in the 20-teens has turned to how learning organizations can be supported, and the next step in BPM will certainly be in these directions.

Keith Swenson is Vice President of Research and Development at Fujitsu America Inc. He is known for having been a pioneer in collaboration software and web services, and has helped the development of many workflow and BPM standards. He is currently the Chairman of the Workflow Management Coalition. In the past, he led development of collaboration software at MS2, Netscape, Ashton Tate and Fujitsu. In 2004 he was awarded the Marvin L. Manheim Award for outstanding contributions in the field of workflow. His blog is at