I’ve always believed that to get ahead or cause change you need to push the envelope. Be willing to take calculated and sometimes all out risks. Yet, too many are afraid to do just that. They’re complacent, afraid to ruffle some feathers or fear losing their job. Those are the people that prefer to go along with the lead than ask pointed questions or disagree. Or worse yet, provide alternate solutions.
Risk is not the same as anarchy. Risk is taking an idea, implementing that idea, and trying to stabilize it as fast as possible. This usually comes at the expense of a lot of hours researching and implementing. And putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation. If well executed, that risk could lead to big gains and rewards. Potentially positioning yourself or a company differently for a better outcome.
“People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”
― Peter F. Drucker
Imagine a company stuck with an aging product. The company needs to make a drastic change to remain competitive. In most cases, management will prefer to put together a drawn out roadmap. Or perhaps set unreasonable expectations to develop a newer version. They need to keep making money, make clients happy and stay relevant, all at the same time. All this takes a long time to achieve, if at all. Eventually, management gets demotivated by the amount of effort needed. Their effort gets shelved and named the Hail Mary by everyone involved.
In such cases, risk taking may be the right course. Someone, somewhere, sitting in a cubicle in that big room has the answer. And he’d be willing to lead a small team, going all out, to build out that product. This usually means that the company has to give up something. Such as backward compatibility, profits, delayed deployments or happy clients. The company would need to go back into start-up mode. Become more nimble, creative and innovative. Everyone would need to tighten the proverbial belt.
“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”
― Marissa Mayer
However, taking risks doesn’t necessarily mean cutting off an arm. It can also mean having faith and trusting someone to get the job done. All while everyone else does their usual day-to-day thing.