Business Sustainability: The Advantage of Risk

Juggling catsRisk avoidance. Risk aversion. Risk management. Call it what you like. In today’s world, we trend towards viewing risk as a negative instead of as an advantage, maybe even a condition to be pursued and planned for in order to take us to our next level.

The status quo is comfortable. When we are in status quo, things are flowing smoothly and that’s where the trouble comes in. We become complacent. That’s when growth stops and we move into a protective mode where we do what we can to protect the status quo. Talk about stressful! Have you ever fought to protect yourself from risk only to learn later that you missed out on a huge opportunity? That’s not a good feeling.

Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone is how we get ahead. Ever move up the ladder at work? Congratulations! You took a risk. Ever purchase a home? Congratulations! Another risk taken.

My point is that we all need an element of risk to propel us forward. Planning for risk helps us advance and grow. We manage risk through the establishment of metrics to monitor how our planned risk taking is going and then adjusting our plan to continue our forward progress towards our ultimate desire. The flow looks something like this:

  • Select the outcome we are most interested in achieving
  • List the risks we perceive to be associated with achieving that outcome
  • Rank or rate these risks on their potential to impact us resulting in a risk priorities listing
  • Plan for addressing each risk to develop the metrics we will use to monitor if or when each risk is impacting us
  • Adjust our progress towards the desired outcome to capitalize on the advantage the risk brings to us
  • Keep moving – don’t quit, and above all, don’t give up
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