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Issued on November 3, 2010
“The amount of risk we assume
is proportional to the responsibilities we accept.”
- Bryce’s Law
Not long ago I was meeting with some
software developers from a small company who expressed their concern
about the risk involved with a project they were working on. They
weren’t so much concerned about the viability of the project in terms
of its impact on the company as they were with the potential effect it
might have on their professional careers. In other words, they saw this
as a high risk project that could affect them for years to come. This
may be true, but from their description I saw their risk as minuscule
in comparison to what their employer was gambling which, frankly, was
the company’s future.
This got me thinking about how we
perceive risk in our professional lives. Most employees perceive risk
in terms of how it affects them professionally, particularly as a
source of income. In reality, it is the employer who assumes all of the
risk. If something goes wrong, it will be the employer who will be
sued, not the employee. It will be the employer who has to deal with
government regulators and creditors, not the employee, It will be the
employer who loses financially and faces bankruptcy, not the employee.
In fact, most employees do not appreciate the risk required to simply
open the company’s doors for business. Their life is rather simple as
compared to the business owner who agonizes over the company’s
Risk is not for everyone, it is for
those entrepreneurial spirits who are not afraid of taking a gamble;
who recognizes both the risks and rewards for taking it. True risk
requires a “Type A” personality (which we have discussed in the past)
who knows how to study variables, calculate odds and return on
investment, and is willing to assume the responsibility for taking it.
It is most definitely not for the faint of heart.
This brings up a point: The degree of
risk increases the higher you go in the corporate hierarchy. Whether
you are cognizant of it or not, as you assume additional
responsibilities in a company, through a promotion for example, you are
also being saddled with additional risks, and your success depends on
your ability to assume the risks and conquer them. Some people rise to
the occasion, others face the Peter Principle whereby they cannot rise
above their level of competency. Nevertheless, true risk is assumed by
the highest echelons in the corporate structure, regardless of the size
of business. And it is this sense of risk that greatly influences our
style of management.
We should also understand the
difference between taking a risk and being rash in judgment. The two
are not synonymous. I always exemplify it by using a game of Craps as
found in a casino; the rash person simply throws his wager on the table
without thinking, but the person who studies the game and knows the
odds before he places a bet is the one taking the calculated risk. The
higher you go up in business, the more you appreciate the need for
studying the odds.
As any business owner will tell you,
employees really do not grasp the concept of risk. I think the
following quote pretty much sums it up:
“It is not the critic who
counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or
where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man
who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat
and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and
again; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends
himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the
triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at
least fails Daring Greatly so that his place shall never be with those
timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”
- President Theodore Roosevelt
Keep the Faith!
Note: All trademarks both marked and
unmarked belong to their respective companies.
Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of
M. Bryce & Associates
(MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the
management consulting field. He can be reached at email@example.com
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-11-12 00:48:41 in Business Articles