Avoid Risk at Your Own Peril

By Andy Beaubien, BPR

A recent article from Amazon’s audible.com talks about the cost of risk aversion. It works like this…

One person proposes an idea, then others join in on the conversation and come up with reasons why it might fail, slowly pecking it to death. This banter goes on until the originator gets exhausted or deflated, or the group concludes that there’s no way to make the idea completely risk-free.

The unspoken mindset at work in these situations is that an idea cannot have both merit and risk at the same time. Resources are precious. Time is limited. It is imperative that decision-makers ensure that they invest in winners. Every time.

This is a sure recipe for failure.  No risk – no gain.

In today’s successful startups and digital media companies, risk (and resulting failure) is expected, built into processes and often welcomed as the pathway to better understanding and future success. Good companies learn from failure.

If everyone is your work group agrees on an idea, it is most likely not going to work. Brilliant new ideas and successes often are the result of the passion and dedication of a small number of people – in many cases just one person.

The audible.com article suggests the following questions that we need to ask ourselves when an idea fails to get off the ground…

  • What really went wrong? (Without focusing on the Blame Game or venting frustration, anger or disappointment, I try to identify what is the honest root cause of the failure.)
  • Were there any cues or signals I missed along the way that could have changed the outcome?
  • What other projects am I working on that would immediately benefit from this experience?
  • How do I share what I’ve learned?
  • How did the failure make me feel?


Perhaps we have more to learn from our failures than our successes.  Success is a product of experience and there is no experience without the risk of failure.


Read the original by Eric Nuzum, SVP, Audible.com



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