Take smarter risks

Although my brother and I are equally brilliant and good looking, we couldn’t be more different professionally; but somehow we manage to agree on what risk management should mean.  

In his blog, the elder Terry Levine quotes Grant McCracken’s  Chief Culture Officer:

“The secret of success is not ‘bigger risks.’ It is to harvest error, to take new risks more strategically…. Taking risks because they are risks is an abdication of managerial responsibility. Management can’t be Darwinian. It’s not a random evolutionary walk, searching for good options by exploring all the bad ones.”

Terry goes on to explain:

In other words, it’s important to take risks but it’s idiotic to take them blindly. To use my mountain-climbing example again, you don’t just decide to climb a mountain one day. You train for it, you buy the proper equipment, you get a sherpa. 

Building on that, I would add that you can prepare but cannot plan for everything. Learn from your mistakes and especially learn from those of others because other people’s mistakes don’t cost you as much. Plan (but not too much) and take smart risks. Remember what David Kelley said: “enlightened trial and error outperforms the planning of flawless intellects.”

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