Posts from the “Risk” Category

Which Risk?

Posted on December 22, 2017


It’s common to hear concerns about risk. That’s too risky. We’re risk averse. Give me the safe choice. It’s important to remember you’re not choosing high risk or low risk, you’re choosing which risk. An option that seems safe in the short-term may have massive risk in the long-term. A little risk in the present may greatly benefit the future you. Or mitigating risk in one dimension – like cost, quality, or time – may raise risks in another. It’s all trade-offs. “You’re not choosing high risk or low risk, you’re choosing which risk.” *

Exit Strategy

Posted on December 9, 2016


How do we know when we’re done, an executive asked me this week. It’s a great question. What is our definition of success? When can we stop? So many activities focus on the announcement, the start, the big release, without fully considering the expiration date, the phase out, the closing. It’s the summit fever in high altitude mountaineering, the compulsion to reach the peak with too little regard for a safe descent. It’s the redundant technology in the work environment or the never-ending career role. It’s why garages and landfills get cluttered with objects. Look around…something might need an exit strategy. *

The Nature of Glass

Posted on March 18, 2016


“It is the fate of glass to break,” says M in the Bond film Spectre. It is the nature of glass to break. It is the nature of projects to fail. It is the nature of people to overreact. Some things are risky in and of themselves. Handling influences breakage. Risk of breakage increases with volume and violence of handling. Risk is inversely correlated with the experience and competency of the handlers. Methods influence risk. Context influences breakage. There will be more breakage in a volatile, jolting environment than a calm, stable environment. When and where things are undertaken impacts risk. The inherent environment matters. *

Pattern or Prison

Posted on January 2, 2016


I often see patterns in my clients’ (and my own) actions. While mental shortcuts may be helpful to speed decision-making and reinforce comfort zones, they can lock you into unnecessarily tight boundaries. At worst, extremely patterned behavior imprisons thinking, actions and results. Let’s consider three patterns – deferring to planning, precedent or power – that often entrap decision-makers. “What you do as an editor is search for patterns, at both the superficial and ever deeper levels – as deep as you can go…Putting a film together is, in an ideal sense, the orchestration of all those patterns.” –Walter Murch Prisoner of the Plan This prisoner spends an inordinate amount of time setting an overly complex plan, and once it’s set, he never changes it. So much…


Posted on December 13, 2015


Which dimension is your solution addressing? It’s easy to get a soundbite or support the easiest perceived solution based on a single variable, but a world of complex problems requires a multidimensional approach. That may mean considering people, process and technology in an organizational ecosystem or devising a broader grand strategy for a nation – with appropriately balanced military, economic, diplomatic and informational capabilities. Don’t ignore the related variables. “Over the next few years, this pattern was to repeat itself over and over again. Whenever an economic problem came up (and there were plenty), I usually saw an economic solution. Sasha would see problems in terms of loyalty and friendship – or lack thereof – and solutions were to be found in ever greater acts of…

The Sure Thing

Posted on December 4, 2015


Today, I attended an annual meeting that a colleague predicted would be contentious. And it was…with undertones of mistrust. The voting majority chose to postpone decisions on the main proposed changes – we choose to choose later – so there will be more time for discussion and analysis. And of course, there will be an indefinite period of status quo and more risk to the ultimate outcome as time passes. Recognizing your relevant time horizon can help you make more conscious decisions and better manage expectations. Mike Tyson went broke, in part, because most of the people he grew up with died young. Why save money for the future when you won’t live to see it? Why trust a negotiation that promises the equivalent of a good…