You are risk focused. And that’s a good thing. To a point. Your commitment to identifying risk should be a means to an end or outcome. However, a problem is created when being risk focused becomes an end in itself.
First, risk is a great way to impede uncovering opportunities. Then, as your professional perspective becomes dedicated to uncovering risk, instead of opportunity, your focus kills innovation. Finally, you become satisfied, if not completely relieved, to identify enough risk to stall, derail, delay or stop considering opportunities.
Yes, organizations become more risk focused, if not downright risk-averse, in their growth trajectory from startup to successful enterprise. Organizational maturity reflects itself in leadership and hiring strategy, as well.
However, why make this type of model your excuse for being so risk focused that you lose the ability to identify opportunities? Just doing your job? And that is all?
Where do you fit into the picture?
Subsequently, there is a tension created between the folks in an organization responsible for identifying risk, maintaining compliance and reinforcing controls. Their actions often appear counterproductive to those folks responsible for identifying opportunities to reduce employee and customer churn, reinforce customer success and engage employees in all these activities.
Over time, this tension reinforces the Us versus Them mindset found in organizations of all sizes. Often, the tension of fulfilling key performance indicators for job functionality becomes counterproductive to convergence and collaboration initiatives. As a result, project outcomes may not be as nimble and flexible as they need to be, to grow, expand and sustain an organization.
Being risk focused only communicates to colleagues what they cannot do.
Who are the risk focused colleagues in your organization? Are you one?
When entire departments are hired for their homogeneous personae, there’s precious little room for cross-functional collaboration. Everyone’s far too busy coloring inside the lines.
Also, as new ideas are introduced, these concepts are compared with existing protocols and processes. The goal is finding a reason why not to move forward with corrective or preventive actions, let alone pursuing a course of action which improves or innovates.
Comfortable? Yes. Competitive? Potentially, no.
Being risk focused is all well and good if you function in a departmental silo, isolated from other professional disciplines. However, how realistic is that scenario?
The pace and cadence of digital transformation, departmental convergence and IoT connectivity focus teams on they can do, together.
Organizational cultures are transforming, regardless of business size or industry sector. As a result of the ubiquitous use of technology in business and operations, cross-functional collaboration is key to this transformation.
Once again, this initiative brings together the departments at the heart of Us versus Them mindset: business and STEM colleagues, charged with identifying, acquiring and retaining revenue sources. When job functionality is described like that, there is no room for legacy mindset, is there?
As a result, both opportunity as well as risk identification become important targets of collaboration. For each opportunity, what is the risk? Perhaps more importantly, why is that risk, well, risky? And for whom? Then again, for each risk identified, is there an obvious opportunity? Or an overlooked opportunity?
A different type of collaborative conversation “happens” when cross-functional teams focus on opportunity discovery, in addition to identifying risk. For starters, everyone remains engaged in the discussion rather than tuning out and turning off after it’s their turn to present information. In addition, team members explore all the angles of the collaboration puzzle.
When that happens, not only is risk identified, so are opportunities which otherwise would have lay dormant within an organization. That is nothing short of professional innovation.
Hence my professional mantra: “Depending on where we sit around the business table, we all ‘see’ the same things differently. Shouldn’t our differences become our strengths and opportunities, instead of status quo impediments?” ~ Babette Ten Haken
Next steps towards professional innovation:
- Read these related posts on professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention.
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Babette Ten Haken serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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