How can you be safer from “big risk?” What kinds of big risks do we face in business? A book entitled “Safe Landings” written by Captain Brad Bartholomew got me thinking about that.
How can you be safer from big risks?
I was inspired to do this nugget by reading this book by a friend of mine, “Safe Landings” by Captain Brad Bartholomew.
Imagine you’re flying an airplane. Of course, you have limited fuel. You plan to fly to airport A. You also have some backup plans, plan B and even plan C, just in case something goes wrong. When you are flying, Mother Nature is not forgiving. If you do the wrong thing, you’re going to crash. That’s a big risk.
Now, what kinds of big risks could you encounter when you’re flying? For example, it could be a malfunction of an airplane. Often it is weather-related, such as thunderstorms forming. The author quite accurately states that the sooner you see that risk, the sooner you can take action. You must take action!
Imagine seeing clouds you cannot fly through safely. The sooner you see them the better. You can make a few degrees change in your flight path and fly around them. The closer you come, the bigger the diversion angle to avoid those clouds. The bigger angle lengthens your flight path and impacts how many resources it takes to make that change.
In this example, the resources are, most critically of all, fuel and also time. What does this look like for business?
Three Big Risks In Business
There are three big risks that I came up with that just about every business is subject to. Of course, there are many more, but these three are a great start to understanding big risks in business.
Big Risk #1: You Are Losing Money
One big risk is that you are losing money. If your profitability is not there, you have got to deal with it now. I’ve been part of those rescue efforts many times. Sometimes, businesses don’t track their profitablity well enough. They don’t even know whether a given project or order made money or lost money. What you track gets better!
Big Risk #2: Your Company Becomes Less Relevant In the Marketplace
Your company must remain relevant. That is true for all of us. We have to make sure that we look up often enough from what we are doing to see what is changing around us and how this impacts our relevancy. We got to create time for us to stay innovative and creative so we don’t become irrelevant. This happens so much faster now because the world changes so fast. Innovation and change are happening at a pace that’s faster than ever.
Big Risk #3: Your Company Is Losing Expertise (Brilliance)
Then there’s brilliance. Loss of brilliance is so common in companies and other organizations because, sooner or later, every person will leave. The question is, how much of the experience, expertise, and wisdom have they shared in a permanent way before they go? In most cases, it’s way too little.
These are three huge risks we encounter in business. We must spot them in time and act!
How Can We Mitigate These Risks?
Number one, you must have frequent self-assessment. You need to step away from what’s happening. There is a great story in the book about a guy who supervises construction jobs. Once a week, he steps away from the construction job and sits across the street where no one can talk to him. He just thinks about what is going on and what should be going on. Just put yourself in the shoes of an outside “auditor” and pretend you’re not even working there. You do your best to see it with fresh eyes.
I would recommend that periodically you get actual fresh eyes from an outside person because it’s not so easy to bring those fresh eyes yourself all the way. The exercise I am describing here is definitely really good. You can’t necessarily afford to have fresh eyes from the outside all the time. I recommend to do both, your own fresh eyes exercise weekly and an outside person once per 3, 6 or 12 months.
Number 2, you got to break down complexity and make it simpler. Keep it smart and simple (KISS), as I say, and make decisions and act on them.
Let’s talk about decisions because when your life is on the line (it’s always basically alway on the line) there is urgency. Think of the analog of flying an airplane. We are “flying the business.”
You must make decisions to survive but you can’t always know whether your decision is correct. How can yo udeal with that safely?
Let’s say if your original plan was plan A, and now you’re deciding that there’s a big risk in the way. You make a decision early on so that you don’t have to veer off the path so far and expend huge amounts of resources. You execute plan B (which, hopefully, you already thought about before you even took off). In business, you may or may not have plan B in your pocket. You may have to pivot in the moment when yo usee your original plan is not working.
A great pilot, of course, has plan B and set aside resources (fuel) for exceuting it. However, as Captain Brad Bartholomew points out, you cannot put all the resources into plan B. You must not use the reserve fuel for executing plan B. That fuel is for plan C. That’s a great point because you still have to have a bit of reserve to do something if plan B doesn’t work.
See Big Risk , Make Decisions, And Act – All Of It We Must Do More Quickly
Similarly, we need to train ourselves to make decisions quicker. See big risks more quickly, make decisions to act on them more quickly, and have enough reserves to do something else. If plan B doesn’t work. That is agile thinking paired with frequent assessments. It is how you keep yourself safer from big risks. See it, make quick decisions, have enough fuel left to change if the plan doesn’t work.
Think about your profitability, consider your relevancy, assess your brilliance, and how to preserve that. All three are related, by the way. When you preserve your brilliance in documented systems, you free up the involved key experts who previously had to manage and execute on that brilliance. Now these experts (including you) have more time. You can look up, do those self-assessments, start to see those risks sooner, and think about your relevancy. As I said, becoming irrelevant is also a big risk in this day and age.
How often do you look for big risks? What do you do when you identify one?
P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this Brilliance Nugget with others. Thank you!