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The Hidden Dangers of Playing It Safe

https://hbr.org/2013/10/the-hidden-dangers-of-playing-it-safe

hbr.org

The Hidden Dangers of Playing It Safe
Last year Dina, a CEO I'd been working with, felt that leaders on her team were playing it too safe. They weren't finding and pursuing new growth opportunities and it was crippling the organization. She kicked off her October management team meeting, which I was attending, by reading the following passage from my book: The dangers of taking too much risk are very clear.

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Playing it safe: a silent killer

The dangers of playing it safe appear so gradually that they rarely get noticed.

It is like a slow leak in a tire, you only notice it when you are stuck. You don't have an idea of how it happened.

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Hanging onto old ideas

People try desperately to hang on to antiquated ways of doing business because of a false sense of security. They believe that they can maintain their old ideas indefinitely, even if all evidence shows the contrary.

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Question everything

Questioning everything could help you to spot problems and create a culture of understanding and action.

What does this business look like in five years?  What are our customers worrying about today? What will concern them tomorrow? Where are we failing to communicate? Are we capitalizing on all our strengths? What opportunities are we missing?

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Make it uncomfortable

People naturally want to play it safe because it feels better in the short term. 

To break through this tendency, bombard it with tough and thoughtful questions. Hold other people accountable to do the same. Then hold them accountable for strategizing and executing.

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Ask yourself what makes you happy

An opportunity should not only be viewed by the benefits it provides. 

Knowing how the opportunity will make you happy should also have an influence on your decisions.

Be willing to gamble on yourself

Moving on in life is possible if you have a good understanding and knowledge of yourself.

Believe in yourself that you are able to figure out a way forward. 

Double down

Finding a good opportunity may leave you to put everything in to make it work, and the confidence to move beyond your safety nets. 

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Paying Employees Exceedingly Well

A short-term fix for making employees stay is to pay the employees well. This is not a long-term strategy, as having people in a company for purely financial reasons wouldn't be a good idea. But if...

Interesting Projects

Providing interesting or a variety of projects keeps talented employees on board.

Innovative projects eventually reduce the need for old software/old processes that are normally active for decades as no one is capable or interested in providing a more efficient way to work.

Career Progression

  • Providing a clear career path with regular opportunities to grow and develop, makes the employees commit themselves more to the organization.
  • Organizations that are constantly hiring talent from outside (as opposed to developing internal talent) are leaving doors open for existing employees to leave.

Purpose of Storytelling

  • Clarifies The Vision and Mission of an Organization. Reinforces the intent of the leadership. 
  • Helps to Address strong challenges of organizational culture. It ...

Exercise for Corporate Leaders

Consider utilizing the exercise below to help develop a positive story:

  • Identify a successful event within the organization, or, an accomplishment by its personnel.
  • Detail the actions leading up to and following the event in chronological order.
  • Develop a 5 minute and 2 minute version of the story for use when speaking with your internal leadership team and personnel.