I need to make a statement upfront…
Admittedly, I have been somewhat reluctant to approach this subject as it strikes a confrontation chord at the heart senior management, particularly of large organisations; namely their lack of capability and using risk as the justification.
However my blog ‘Hunting Corporate Elephants’ is about identifying such huge organisational obstructions sitting in plain sight and asking ..”Can anybody else see that, or is it just me?”
But enough is enough, its everywhere!
Everywhere I go at the moment risk is floating in the winds, like an eagle telescopically focused on its next potential prey. The more I’m exposed to it, the less I see it as a genuine strategic problem mitigation mechanism, and more as an excuse. But an excuse for what? This is the twenty million dollar question.
Failure to face the problem:
It’s my contention, (coupled with my experience) that risk has now become a substitute for lack of capability, plain and simple. Instead admitting” I don't know” or “This problem is so complex and I can’t figure it out”, the safety net is to simply pass the buck and transform it into a rather palatable “Nope it’s just too risky” in order to save face. Acknowledging that we might not be capable of finding an actionable solution is too revealing.
How many mangers do you know are willing to shine the spot light on their lack of capability and would prefer to blame the situation or the environment in which they work? It’s not the environments fault it’s too complex, it is however our concern if we don’t have the tools to influence it.
Are you ill prepared?
Arguably and in all fairness, a lot of the situations and decision points in large organisations and leadership are risky. But they are risky in exactly the same way when you take a knife to a gun fight. If you apply thinking and decision making processes from the past to modern problems you are automatically under-armed for the situation at hand. When you walk into a situation like the one above it doesn't take too much to figure out that it’s probably not a great idea to proceed with your course of action, so you withdraw.
Initially it will appear to be a clever decision because you live to fight another day, however is does not solve the problem you were attempting to fix, furthermore that problem continues to permeate your organisation causing all kinds of fallout.
Viruses are contagious:
Lack of capability masked as risk operates like a virus, in way that it infects everyone it touches. Once one person catches it, it rapidly infects everyone in the organisational hierarchy horizontally and vertically aligned with it, causing a rapid onset of debilitating symptoms.
All of which directly influences organizational functioning and is horrifically debilitating.
So how can we cure the risk influence?
It relatively simple…by building 21st Century capability to solve 21st Century problems!
A majority of the work I do is in building this capability. I assist leaders to upgrade their internal problem solving and leadership decision making processes to create a 21st Century Mindset.
• Framing the problem in the right strategic context;
• Working with and formalising the critical perspectives at play;
• Deploying futures and systems thinking to the problem and context;
• Co-creating an effective decision making process;
• Building collaborative capacity;
• Building robust neural learning networks; and
• Practice and reflection, though Action learning.
Complex situations don't look risky to capable individuals, they present as opportunities.