Just do it: Making Risk Easier

Risk avoidance is easy. Risk assessment and action is harder.

'We need to check one more time!'

‘We need to check one more time!’

The CMO had stuck his head in the marketing team’s door. They were anxiously discussing the merits of the organization’s proposed brand and customer experience position. He said, ‘Stop the discussion and get on with implementing it…now!’ One of the team said, ‘But the research people are worried that we can’t verify that it will work.’ With a hint of irritation, the CMO responded, ‘Please, just do it!’

Manage change and conflict or it will manage you. – Terry Paulson

It’s normal for organizations to think that, despite extensive development and testing time, a decision of this nature requires debate, consensus and verification. They think that they need to reduce the risk that a major programme may not work, even when deadlines are looming – deadlines that can always be extended for something that might not yet be ideal.

Noting G.K. Chesterton’s line, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly,” Michael Hyatt advocates, doing is better than not doing perfectly. If it’s worth doing at all, we should keep going.

Hence risk avoidance is easier than risk assessment that leads to decisions.

To see your drama clearly is to be liberated from it. – Ken Keyes, Jr.

History proved that the CMO’s act of doing something made a difference. 10+ years later, the effort propelled the organization – including an acquisition of a smaller organization – to a consistent #1 spot in brand valuation and customer experience.

Can we use Solution Focus to take action when people want to ‘check one more time’?

How can we get the team to make a decision without being told what to do?

1. State empathetically: You’ve done a lot of hard work. It’s very normal that with so much information you’d want to check that you’ve not made a mistake.

2. Ask: Suppose we were to implement this activity, what would we see as some of the useful outcomes for (name the key stakeholders)? Examine each stakeholder scenario in detail. Keep them focused on ‘useful’

3. Ask: What are the key barriers to success? Get a short list. Ask: Suppose we are successful with #2 (above), what would we have done to overcome those barriers?

4. Ask: Suppose our choice encounters some issues in our implementation, a) what would they likely be?, b) What would we be doing instead?, and c) How will we use the learning to move forward? Keep them focused on ‘learning’ vs. avoiding

5. Ask: Suppose we are successful in the future and we are looking back to today, what will we see ourselves doing to get started right away? Develop lots of small immediate and concrete steps that are visible to the organization

Will this approach guarantee success? No. But, it will guarantee that there is forward momentum and learning from action.

Will this keep the leader and the team awake at night? Possibly, but they’ll have done something that moves the organization forward vs. double-checking to avoid doing something.