We are Risk Takers.
We are willing to step out of our comfort zone. We use our collective intelligence to solve problems, weigh outcomes, and take calculated risks.
I believe that too many companies and leaders punish failure. In fact, so many modern leadership theories like Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing focus on error reduction and getting processes as close to perfect/efficient as possible. This is a worthy quest and important to pursue, if what you are fixing happened to be close to the right process/system/approach and that it just needed to be tweaked and improved.
Risk taking is a cultural privilege. Small business is the balance between innovation and creativity and enough “organization” for work to actually get achieved. Risk taking is so much a part of this culture of innovation. But being willing to take a risk must be taught. No one wants to make decisions or try things that sink the company. I was always taught to encourage risk taking by applying a monetary value to your decision. Changing brands of soap in the restroom might be a $9 dollar decision. Not too many employees need to be consulted to change soap vendors.
There are $999 dollar decisions too. These decisions require getting a team together. These risks require doing some homework and gathering some information. I call this the basics of SEE, THINK, and ACT. This is the overly simple way I encourage risk taking. SEE all of the information. THINK about it with any and all employees that can help lend perspective and advise. Plan your steps forward and ACT on them. Have a $9,999 dollar idea or bigger? Well, get the right people involved to see if you have something!
Risk taking does not happen because of company checks and balances. Risk is discouraged because everything you do must have an ROI or IOC calculation attached to it. Risk taking is not encouraged because it takes a lot of work to have an environment that challenges the status quo. Risk taking is not relevant because job descriptions are designed to have a production or output focus only. Risk taking is not the job for many on the front lines. At least this is the other theory.
Some great companies give creative days or a few hours a week to pursue pet projects. If you’re an employee in these companies, you get it. This is why you work there culturally. To outsiders this down time looks like lost monies and hours of productivity. Yet when folks pursue their passions in a work context, new ideas and solutions flow radically well in the business!
Risk taking to me is about giving the tools to make decisions. Do you know how to get the right people involved? Can you influence? Can you make a compelling argument or tell a great story to garner interest and to motivate? Are you able to practice good problem solving techniques like SEE, THINK, and ACT?
What can you do to really live the value of risk taking?
- Keep a daily diary of areas to observe in the business. What can we do to be more Outside-In® or better serve our customers?
- Learn to problem solve. SEE. THINK. ACT.
- Be a great teammate by learning how to team!
- Don’t punish others for $9 risks. What did we learn from them?
- Don’t take $999,999 risks without knowing how!