Be warned…. More ramblings to follow. I’m finding this is a good outlet for thinking. If you find it interesting, or have some good thoughts to add of your own, please feel free to comment!
Sometimes I wonder…. one of the key components in a successful business endeavor is the way in which people embrace risk. Embrace it like a crazy person: the chances of something bad happen can be unacceptably high. Avoid risk like a timid person: the chances of something really good happen are correspondingly low. Life goes on, both extremes lead to an illusion of predetermination. Neither seems to be such a great way to go about doing one’s business.
When leading people, there are similar challenges. I once told a team that I’d be dissapointed if we met all of our goals, delivering every project on time. There were some very funny looks in the room that day. After being yelled at for years about not delivering predictably and on time (not by me, mind you), here was some nut job telling them that goals, all met probably meant that they hadn’t taken enough risks and challenged themselves and their teams.
So, (at least to me), the ideal environment is one in which people are sufficiently comfortable to take reasonable levels of risk. But how to define reasonable? I’d think it falls somewhere along a parallel to the hypocratic oath “do no harm,” or perhaps passing some measure of “the worst that can happen” being not terribly bad, and managable. Also, I’d think that “the best that can happen” should reasonably trump its nemesis (“the worst thing that can happen”).
For me, one of the worst things that can happen in a group is dead silence. I’d rather have people be comfortable proposing wacky thoughts, provided that they’re in the right setting. People need to be comfortable with one another, share ideas with an expectation that some might not be all that clever. As a leader, I (and my team) need to encourage people to operate with great candor (some of which is telling their peers that they are not making any sense).
A good dose of humor, and an adrenaline/caffienated work environment can be tremendously rewarding, to not only the individuals taking a part in the conversations or endeavors, but also to the parent organization. With a reasonable, and not excessive set of checks and balances, some really neat and valuable things can happen. You just have to believe with the right sense of balance!