The workplace is a mix of identifying risk as well as opportunities for process improvement and innovation. However, the word “NO” often is wielded by naysayers. Why? The powerful NO word is a frequently-used means of justifying only one decision: the decision not to make any decision. At all.
After all, NO is a more comfortable non-decision, than YES. And, it is far easier to let the word “NO” limit professional decisions and choices we must make. Sometimes, we even are relieved when people tell us NO.
When identifying risk, as well as opportunities for innovation, we become professionally uncomfortable.
I mean, what were we thinking of, in the first place? Otherwise, we just might decide to stick our necks out. We could choose to incorporate new behaviors in our interactions with colleagues. As a result, we just might swim into uncharted waters towards the Unknown – for all of us.
Yes. Doing things one millimeter beyond our current professional comfort levels is risky. Often, taking this risk involves working with people we normally do not work with, let alone collaborate with. When we combine identifying and managing risk with an additional target of identifying opportunities for innovation, there are more ideas on the table to evaluate. Together.
The size of the box we operate in expands. As a result, we move ourselves – and our colleagues – beyond the “but this is how we always have done this” mindset.
Managing risk is the first step in creating innovative solutions.
Obviously, risk identification is important when charting strategy and tactics and developing processes and solutions. However, identifying risks can become a never-ending story, can’t it? As your risk list becomes longer and longer, there’s a tendency to become overwhelmed. Because, of course, you and your team members perceive every identified risk as a risk which must be addressed. Now.
Slow down there. Take a deep breath. Prioritize. Evaluate. Most of those risks fall within the confines of three to four over-arching, high-level risk-based issues. There. Feel better?
What’s interesting is that this single exercise identifies opportunities for process improvement. That is innovation, isn’t it? Great. You just have accomplished your first exercise in managing risk and identifying possibilities and opportunities.
Otherwise, when we continuously let ourselves be limited by our leadership’s devotion to NO, we remain prisoners of “thinking inside the box” syndrome.
Consequently, our proposed solutions never become any better than our previous solutions for customers. When our teams cannot flex their innovation muscles, they become complacent and comfortable. And, when that happens, customers can become bored.
- Why? First, because their organizational cultures just may not be as devoted to sticking with what always worked in the past, as ours are.
- Next, because their cultures just may have decided to move beyond NO and, instead, target innovative possibilities and opportunities.
- Finally, because our current customers start looking elsewhere, at competitors’ offerings, to determine whether their teams are more focused on innovation, rather than being confined to the box our organizational currently works within.
How expandable is your own organizational culture and leadership bandwidth? Are you thinking about swimming into uncharted waters and working beyond the limits of your job function? Isn’t it time to swim one millimeter beyond your current comfort level, and create extraordinary, enduring and more innovative client outcomes? What are you waiting for?
Take the next steps towards managing risk innovatively.
- Read these related posts on professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention.
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Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of One Millimeter Mindset™ 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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