Risking is Healthy
Many organizations are risk-aversive. They fear that risks are often associated with failure. And, to some extent, that is true. The old adage that it is easier to get forgiveness than permission sadly comes into play when an organization stifles its people from creatively engaging. As a result, such organizations may lack innovation. They get stuck in their ways and seem to struggle with change. Sometimes, motivated employees who want to contribute, to fully participate and make things happen, get discouraged, leave and take their ideas to competitors where they are welcomed and where those changes can give the competition an edge over a former employer.
I'm not suggesting that every risk is worth taking, but surely some are. The way to calculate risks is to look clearly at the risk-benefit ratio. Asking the question: "What's the worst thing that can happen?", can lead to healthy, maybe even heated debate, even skepticism, and maybe this can lead to a decision to give something a try. The methods used may take the form of a task force, work group or ad hoc committee that brings together diverse and disparate people who are on both sides of an idea. You'll want skeptics and dreamers alike. Each brings a unique offering of what it takes to have open, transparent and fruitful discussions to life so that decisions will reflect the best of ideas. Avoid what Irving Janis called group-think by mixing in the right and best blend of people.
And, if the worst does happen and an idea bombs badly, do not try to fix the blame by pointing fingers at those who tried but fell short; try to fix the problem. Be a stand up guy/gal and assume the responsibility as your own. If the risk succeeds, be sure to share the glory and the plaudits publicly without taking the credit yourself. If things go badly, deliver castigations (if they're even needed) privately but always credit the people for trying to innovate, then study the lessons of the 'failure' so they are not repeated the next time. And, make sure there is a next time. Don't stop innovating or creating change opportunities. That message is not a good one to give employees.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Have the courage to risk so that your organization can grow and even lead the way where others dare not tread.