We often assign risk-taking to fearless entrepreneurs, and risk-takers are seen as daredevils. The word ‘risk’ itself scares us, because it comes with the possibility of failure. But we have forgotten the success that could come from taking a risk could be much more bountiful than if we are complacent. Furthermore, the process of taking the risk can energise the individual and the team alike, and lets us take our creativity and innovation to the next level, bringing the business along with it.
The word ‘risk’ has so many negative connotations in our society’s mainstream groupthink, with the idea of ‘making waves’ feeling as scary as actually surfing a huge wave in the ocean. When you fall off the board it not only hurts, but it also makes you fearful to try again. When progress is stunted, it’s hard to see that it’s only a temporary roadblock. You need the courage to move past it and learn from it.
It doesn’t help that failure can be punishable too. A business failure caused by taking a risk can cause guilt and negative feedback from co-workers and managers.
But what many of us have forgotten is taking risks towards success involves a combination of human creativity, innovative planning and teamwork. An organisation can’t thrive without these key factors. Organisations can get stuck in a loop of running a beige business like robots are in charge, moving things along but never pushing the organisation to be better, never achieving stretch goals.
When the discourse around taking risks centers on the possibility of failure, it’s easy to forget that taking the safe option may also lead to failure. In fact, many say being complacent will definitely lead to failure (Forbes, 2018). It’s the kind of long term failure that is easy to be looked over until the loss of potential at the individual and organisational levels appear through employee discontentment, burning up profits and missing targets and goals. If we look at risk-taking in this light, we can see that it gives the opportunity for creativity and innovation to flourish, while complacency has a much higher chance of failure.
Taking risks should be a strategic process, combined with creativity and teamwork, rather than just taking a blind leap. When working in a team, successful communication is extremely important, especially when planning to take a business risk. All team members should feel they are in a safe environment where they are free to be creative and share their ideas. Mistakes during this planning process should be accepted and learned from, rather than ostracised and deemed a failure. In fact, mistakes can highlight issues in the organisation, such as the need for further training or support. The opportunities for learning and the progress an organisation can make are what makes risk-taking great.
Breaking through the barrier to success is what all businesses strive for. Embracing risk over the lifetime of the business may be scary or difficult, but it can be the element that creates sensational long-term success.
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