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RISK leads to Reward - The Path Through Uncertainty

Updated: May 1

Risk leads to reward a pathway through uncertainty

What is Risk?

"The possibility of something bad happening. Experiencing harm, loss, or some other adverse and unwanted outcome, even death".

Risk Leads to Reward and Success

Looking at it from a personal perspective I spent a lot of my life doing risky things. Rugby, Skiing, Motor Racing, starting a business, you name it I tried it if it came with a risk. Many people are risk adverse but is it a good trait? Can you control risk? These are good questions for anyone to ask. In business risk is an everyday issue to handle and overcome. Often you can turn risk into an opportunity.

Risk is essential for growth. Personally you learn your limitations by taking risk. This can lead you to the right training and methods to enjoy your passions in life.

Risk is a corporate must have. Companies take calculated risks when they introduce new products, expand into new markets, or invest in innovative technologies. These actions carry the potential for substantial rewards but also the possibility of failure. The key to successful risk management lies in balancing potential benefits against potential losses, thereby optimising the chances of achieving desired outcomes.

Risk is not only important but indispensable to being successful. It challenges individuals and organisations and pushes them out of their comfort zone. That is essential for innovation, and to strive for greater achievements.

Risk requires hard work, preparation, training, reviews and management but the rewards are open slopes, faster cars, and ultimately success.

Are you a risk taker or risk avoider.

Managing Risk

Managing risk in a business while treating it as an opportunity for innovation involves a strategic approach that balances cautious risk assessment with proactive risk-taking. Here are some key steps to effectively manage risk and harness it for innovation.

Risk Identification

The first step is to identify potential risks. This can be done through brainstorming sessions, SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), and environmental scanning. Understanding the types of risks your business faces—whether financial, operational, strategic, or compliance-related—is crucial.

Risk Assessment

Once the risks are identified, evaluate their potential impact and the likelihood of their occurrence. This assessment helps in prioritising risks based on their possible effect on the business. Tools like risk matrices can be useful in visualising and ranking risks.

Risk Mitigation

Establish Risk Mitigation Strategies to mitigate the identified risks. This might involve:

  1. Eliminating activities that expose the business to risk.

  2. Reduction by implementing measures to reduce the likelihood or impact of the risk.

  3. Transferring the risk to another party, for example through insurance or outsourcing.

  4. Acceptance by seeing the potential benefits that a risky opportunity might outweigh the negatives, leading to a deliberate decision to accept the risk.

Monitoring and Reviewing

By continuously monitoring the risks and the effectiveness of the mitigation strategies. This dynamic process ensures that the business can adapt to new risks and changes in the external environment.

Fostering a Risk-Aware Culture

By encouraging a company culture where risks are openly discussed and considered. This includes training employees to recognise and respond to risks appropriately.

Leveraging Risk for Innovation

View risk-taking as an essential part of innovation.

Encouraging calculated risk-taking

Foster an environment where employees feel safe to propose and experiment with new ideas, even if they might fail.

Innovative risk solutions

Use challenges as opportunities to innovate, such as developing new products or entering new markets that might initially seem risky.

Learning from Failures

Establish mechanisms to learn from past risks and failures, turning these experiences into lessons for future innovation.

Sport as a Model for Business Owners

sport as a model for business

Risk Leads to Reward

Managing risk in business, much like in sports, involves recognising that every decision and action carries potential for both success and setbacks. Just as athletes must continuously assess and adapt their strategies based on conditions and performance, businesses must navigate uncertainties with a strategic approach to risk management that can foster innovation and growth. If assessed and managed then risk will lead to rewards and success.

Preparation and Training

risk - prepare for the uncertainty

In individual sports, athletes invest significant time in training and preparing to handle different scenarios they might encounter during competition. Similarly, in business, preparation involves thorough research and development, understanding market dynamics, and equipping the organisation with the right tools and skills. This preparation not only mitigates risks but also positions the business to leverage opportunities that arise from unforeseen circumstances.

Strategic Planning

Athletes often have game plans tailored to their strengths and the known capabilities of their competitors. In business, strategic planning entails identifying key risks associated with business ventures (such as market entry or product launches) and developing plans that leverage the company's strengths to capitalise on these risks. This planning includes setting clear objectives, defining actionable steps, and preparing contingency plans. You can learn more about strategic planning at the blog post - Great Business Idea - What Next?

Risk Assessment

Just as an athlete assesses risks when deciding whether to push for a win or conserve energy for a future burst, businesses must conduct risk assessments. This involves identifying potential risks, evaluating their likelihood and potential impact, and prioritising them based on how they align with the business's strategic goals. High-risk opportunities that align well with the company’s capabilities and goals might be viewed as avenues for breakthrough innovations.

Monitoring and Adaptability

In sports, conditions can change rapidly—a sudden rain, an injury, or an opponent's unexpected tactic. Successful athletes monitor these changes and adapt quickly. For businesses, this means having mechanisms in place to monitor both internal performance and external market conditions and competitors, allowing for quick responses to risks and opportunities alike. This adaptability can be a significant source of competitive advantage and innovation.

Learning from Outcomes

Win or lose, individual athletes review their performances to understand what worked and what didn’t. Businesses, too, need to adopt a learning approach from every risk taken. Whether a new venture succeeds or fails, each outcome is a learning opportunity, providing insights that can drive future innovation and improvement. This issue is discussed in more details in the blog post - Losing can make you a Winner.

Risk Diversification

Athletes often compete in multiple events or participate in different types of training to balance their risks and opportunities. Similarly, businesses can diversify their risk by expanding into new markets, developing a range of products, or adopting new technologies, thus spreading potential risks across various ventures and increasing the likelihood of identifying successful innovations.

Risk is a Part of Life

Risk - hard work leads to good outcomes but comes with risk

Risk exists in all the things that we do. How we respond determines the path we take. By treating risks as opportunities for innovation, businesses can adopt a proactive approach that not only mitigates potential downsides but also harnesses uncertainty as a driver for strategic innovation and competitive advantage, much like a skilled athlete navigating the challenges and opportunities of their sport.


By managing risks effectively, businesses can protect themselves from potential downsides but also seize opportunities that others might avoid due to perceived risks. This proactive approach to risk management can become a significant driver of innovation and competitive advantage.

Author: John Debrincat FACS, MAICD

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