Innovate or “Play it Safe” to Avoid Risk

The Xooglers blog has some really interesting posts. In one, “But, but, that’s just crazy talk!” [the broken link was removed], Doug Edwards discusses a great example of what true leadership is about.

In my defense, my background conspired against me. Past public relations debacles had taught me always to evaluate worst-case scenarios before considering the possible benefits of any new initiative. “First, do no harm” had become my mantra.

This is the reality of many people. There are many reasons why avoiding risks is smart and should be encouraged. But when avoiding risks stifles innovation the risks to the organization are huge.

And I took a notion that maybe I should be more open-minded about big ideas that, on the face of them, seemed ludicrous. I would have many opportunities to test this resolve in the years to come.

A great lesson. The hard part is that stupid decisions can easily be made when knowledge is lacking. There is no substitute for knowledge – W. Edwards Deming.

Playing it safe isn’t always safe. In rapidly changing markets (which are quite common lately) “playing it safe” is often riskier than “taking chances” on new ideas.

Quote from Lion of Lean [replaced link to original article with a link to my post that discussed that article, and more – because the original link has been broken], interview with Jim Womack:

So this guy, who was around 60, gives me an incredibly frosty look and says, “Because I know everything.” Everything? “That’s my job,” he says.

You have to read the article [well since they broke the link, you can read my previous post] to understand that quote.

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