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Thriving in uncertainty: the promise of an antifragile supply chain

Philip Vervloesem - April 4, 2023

Reading time: 3 min

The past few years have been a rollercoaster ride for businesses around the world. From the global pandemic to natural disasters, many organizations have experienced significant disruptions to their supply chains. As a result, business leaders are scrambling to find ways to make their supply chains more robust and resilient.

But what if there was a way to not only weather the storm but to come out even stronger on the other side? That's where the concept of an antifragile supply chain comes in. Intrigued? Keep reading, because this promising approach is on the horizon.


Thriving admist chaos

In the fields of biology and medicine, we’re pretty familiar with systems or organisms becoming stronger when being exposed to stress. A classic example is bones and muscles growing stronger under the repeated stress of heavy weight training. Another example is that exposure to mildly poisonous substances can make an organism stronger.

The concept has been developed further by the Lebanese-American author and statistical guru Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his inspiring book ‘Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder’, published in 2012. Here’s what he wrote:

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“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors. They love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”

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Gaining from disorder the promise of an antifragile supply chain

Antifragile supply chains are on the way

Volatility and disorder - that sounds familiar, right? Yet how does the concept of antifragility translate to supply chains? The pandemic highlighted the need for more supply chain flexibility, for example where businesses have been providing more alternative sourcing options. Some businesses have brought production of goods closer to the markets they serve. Some companies are insourcing critical services like transportation to reduce dependence on third parties.

We noticed that the quicker businesses integrated these options into their flexible digital twin, the better they were able to mitigate the risks and, in many cases, grasp new market opportunities.

But there’s even more to it. Supply chain planning solutions are exploring promising, innovative paths. At OMP, we’re developing self-tuning and self-adjusting planning solutions where KPIs are continuously monitored and plans are automatically adjusted to achieve the desired service level. Powered by eXplainable AI (XAI) solvers, the learning loops can even adjust solver parameters and master data such as production speeds and setup times.


For tomorrow’s leading businesses

Business leaders also hope to make their supply chains stronger by harvesting the enormous range of external data becoming available. That’s why OMP established a think tank that is testing and validating an outside-in approach to supply chain planning, using huge sets of valuable external data as signals of variations in demand and supply. This outside-in approach includes powerful scenario planning capabilities where these signals are picked up and processed simultaneously in near-real time. And it will feed the strategic digital twin so that the business will benefit in the long term.

The promise of antifragile supply chains is that they are not just robust and resilient, but also capable of turning disruptions into opportunities. It’s not just defensive, it’s also ambitious. It’s for tomorrow’s leading businesses.

Don't wait for the next disruption to hit. Start building your antifragile supply chain today with our advanced planning solution.

Philip Vervloesem

Senior Vice President OMP USA


With 22 years’ supply chain digital transformation experience in a whole range of industries, Philip currently leads OMP’s business and market development globally while heading up the company’s US operations. Focusing on vision, strategy, and global community building, Philip has a proven history of boundary stretching and thought leadership in supply chain planning innovation, building new markets, and growing and supporting high-performing teams on both sides of the Atlantic.

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