Bryan’s Blog: The Prevalence of Risk

The other day I attended a seminar promoting a number of keynote speakers who conference organisers can engage to lift the tone of their conferences. I was there for two reasons, to learn about delivering great speeches and to hear about their various concepts on life. Their topics ranged from how to manage creative people to harnessing the leadership qualities of women in organisations. To a man (and woman) they all used “risk” in their speeches.

This got me wondering why, when risk is mentioned so often, why we aren’t all automatically good “risk managers”. Why do we sometimes make poor decisions even though we seem to inherently understand “risk” as a concept?

Some of the examples used by the speakers included:

  • risk aversion is the highest barrier to creativity
  • you need to learn to be comfortable about taking risk
  • male and females provide differing perspectives on risk taking

Having pondered these comments and my question as to why we aren’t all automatically good “risk managers” I started thinking like this:

  • We don’t stop and think – that is we don’t realise we are applying a process on the run and sometimes a process is worth applying more diligently.
  • We assume too much – such as that it is unlikely enough that we don’t need to worry about it.
  • Some of us are eternally optimistic – to the extent that we assume a risk event won’t happen to us.

Hence, the next time you see someone doing risk management “on the run” ask them if:

  1.  They need to stop and think.
  2. Their assumptions are reasonable and if they are willing to live with the consequences.
  3. They want this to be true so much that they are fooling themselves.

The world is so fast paced these days we really should stop and think more often.