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September 12, 2023

How flights chaos reminds us to have a plan B in business

In the whimsical world of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, there’s a famous saying: “The million-to-one chance happens every day.” In this fantastical realm, where magic and chaos reign supreme, this adage serves as a reminder that the most improbable events have a knack for unfolding precisely when you least expect them. While Discworld may be a realm of fantasy, this concept bears an uncanny resemblance to the unpredictability of the real world and the principles of Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan theory and “Antifragility.”

The Million-to-One Chance and Black Swans

In Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, this saying highlights the absurdity and unpredictability of life. It’s a reminder that even the most improbable events can occur regularly. This notion aligns with Nassim Taleb’s concept of the “Black Swan.” A Black Swan event is a highly improbable, unforeseen, and impactful occurrence that, in hindsight, appears inevitable. Just like in Discworld, Black Swan events defy conventional wisdom and challenge our ability to predict the future.

One of the most memorable Black Swan events in recent history is the 2008 financial crisis. Few saw it coming, and its consequences were felt worldwide. Taleb’s point is that we often underestimate the likelihood and impact of these rare events, and their occurrence can reshape the course of industries, economies, and lives.

The Antifragile Response

In Taleb’s book “Antifragile,” he introduces the idea that certain systems, individuals, or organizations not only withstand chaos and volatility but actually thrive and grow stronger in the face of adversity. This is the essence of antifragility. The concept of having a “Plan B” in business can be seen as a manifestation of antifragility.

Imagine a business that has only one revenue stream, entirely dependent on a single product or market. When unexpected disruptions occur, like economic downturns, supply chain issues, or sudden shifts in consumer behavior, this business is fragile. It’s vulnerable to the shocks of the unpredictable world and may struggle to survive.

On the other hand, a business that diversifies its revenue streams, invests in innovation, and is prepared for contingencies is antifragile. When confronted with unforeseen challenges, it can adapt, pivot, and even find new opportunities amidst the chaos. This adaptability is what keeps it not just resilient but thriving.

The Wisdom of the Million-to-One Chance

The million-to-one chance concept reminds us that unpredictability is a constant companion in both fictional worlds like Discworld and our own. Embracing the wisdom of the million-to-one chance means acknowledging that Black Swan events can and do happen. Therefore, it’s prudent to have a Plan B and even a Plan C in business.

Incorporating antifragility into our strategies means preparing for the unexpected, diversifying our resources, and cultivating adaptability. It means recognizing that the chaotic nature of the world is not a threat but an opportunity to grow and evolve.

As business leaders, entrepreneurs, and individuals navigating a complex and ever-changing landscape, we should take inspiration from Terry Pratchett’s whimsical world, Nassim Taleb’s insights, and the concept of the million-to-one chance. Embrace the uncertainty, prepare for the unexpected, and remember that the improbable is not so rare after all.

In conclusion, flight chaos may serve as a poignant reminder of the importance of having a Plan B in business, but it also offers a chance to elevate our strategies to a state of antifragility. The million-to-one chance happens every day, and by understanding and embracing it, we can navigate the turbulence of the business world with confidence and resilience. So, let’s keep our plans flexible, our minds open, and our wings ready to soar through the unpredictable skies of entrepreneurship and innovation.

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Michael Veazey


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