Risk: The Catalyst to Escaping the Status Quo

by: Ben Friedle

Do you have your teams brainstorming new ideas and putting them into quick business cases? Why not?

If you said yes, when was the last time you implemented one of these ideas? If you haven’t seen an idea worth pursuing|you may be:

  1. Underestimating the collective intelligence of your team OR
  2. You are risk averse (haven’t taken a risk in a while) AND
  3. You are growing comfortable with the status quo.

Risk is necessary to build your venture and demonstrate industry leadership - a.k.a. dominate your space. If you don't take risks on a regular basis, you aren't pushing the boundaries of where your organization or your strategy are|and you aren't searching for new opportunity. Without risk, you are merely operating in the same sphere you've always been in.

Risk taking can be looked at as something that may not pass a SWOT analysis, solely based on unknowns like impact on sales revenue. An investment or pursuit that is risky should be balanced--both by your gut and your leadership team’s history. Classically, risk is something we are drawn to because of vision|and it should be informed by what we KNOW as a business.

For example|adding a human resource at a time when your sales are growing and you notice your competitors are also growing isn't a tremendous risk (and would pass a SWOT Analysis) An additional employee during market growth will have a predictable outcome on revenue or the savings they are going to deliver. As you already know|if you're in a market that has growth and you're not pushing for more growth (taking marketshare) then you're falling behind your competition.

The type of risk we encourage more businesses to consider would be something the leadership team looks at as an investment. Lets say an organization has talented people who brainstorm together and deliver 5 great ideas to management. With these delivered ideas they also provide a projected ROI and the timeline required to make the idea succeed. If leadership decides one of these ideas would be a positive new direction and choose to go after it|everyone wins. The business has a larger sphere of opportunity. Talented individuals on the team feel vested and valued, and the whole culture will learn.

The most persuasive reason I could give for taking risk is to escape the status quo. Living within the status quo takes your future out of your hands; if your team never gets to swing for the fences|or often push your organization to do new things|then talent and time are being wasted. By not taking risks you can guarantee that you will be in the same or worse situation business cycle after business cycle following market growth or market decline. Without risk you are left to deal with the “same old same” and don’t control your organization's future growth potential.

Various respected leaders have taught that risk is allowing trends in numbers and your financial standing to inform a decision|while still pushing yourself in front of the trend to get outside of your industry's standard practices. The key lies in doing so in a way that is authentic to the strengths and goals of your company.

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