The Upside of Risk

Balancing Act Recruiters look for the candidate that represents the safest bet.

And it's usually not the one with the biggest potential, the one who will help your business do good trade and grow stronger, mindfully, for the most reasonable salary range.

Choosing the safest option means they almost never go for the candidate who offers the biggest upside in terms of endurance.

This short view actually dampens the market.

They're supposed to assume some of the risk in helping the organization creatively, instead they minimize their risk as much as possible. For the students of complexity, there is a comparison brewing here with day traders.

Except day traders sometimes actually decrease the friction in the market. 

It's true of many intermediaries, when they are just filling the order as you do a prescription.

Break the glass in case of marketing.

In my risk management days, when we worked in a soft market — lots of apparent supply, less demand. When that happens, deals are harder to come by. And when they do, they are not as profitable. At least on the surface.

Good sales professionals know that a soft market is ideal for sharpening their listening and observation skills. They don't just gain new clients in doing so, they also leap forward and jump ahead of others on the list — that labeled problem solver.

By doing that, they gain trust, and more business.

Which profession or business doesn't deal in trust today?

Because the biggest influence you can have in your profession today is to help businesses keep their promises. That means solving increasingly complex problems ethically, and with an eye on their ability to do that in the long run.

We had a motto in those days.

It went: size, strength, attitude. It was for advertising, we were the Davids, we pivoted at least in one important instance. I love pivot strategies applied with the concept of endurance, not just for their own sake. As explained on Quora:

Using the language of chess (from Bob Rice's "Three Moves Ahead"), a pivot is an exchange sacrifice. You are exchanging the current advantages you hold for a different set of advantages.

Undersanding when to make that sacrifice and when to hold the course is key to business resilience.

Having a strong team that can flex its creative muscle, innovate where others are just cutting, create profitable demand where others are hunkering down, do different with what they have… and staying the course, makes for a stronger business. One that will leapfrog the competition.

Would finding a candidate who can help you into a different set of advantages help a business that needs new growth, for example? What new skills do you need to produce and deliver value to your customers as members of a network?

Does having someone on staff who can write a creative brief, a proposal, and report on essential and accidental costs help?

Do they understand how to own the movement, a direction, reflect flexibility and speed in holding the course, instead of just giving in? Here's an example from Sir Richard Branson himself.

Instead of merely adopting risk avoidance, risk mitigation, risk prevention, or transferring risk altogether, these organizations – and people – understand how to become resilient through solving the more complex problems and applying the right influence to them.

Eamonn Kelly and Steve Weber wrote a fascinating piece in the Financial Times a few years back about risk and uncertainty in a changing world – download it now and read it. [hat tip Gabriel Kasper] It will help you gain new perspective on the upside of risk.

As Darwin wrote: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent. Rather, it is those most responsive to change.”

You're not going to get that from a prescription.


[hat tip Bud Caddell for the conversation on complexity]

[image by Mike Bitzenhofer]

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