High Risk Is Still Glorified, but Not Key to High Reward

We continue to see situations where bold risk taking is presented in ways that can easily give the impression that high risk leads to high reward.  However, my own research as well as research done elsewhere finds that high risk does not lead to high reward. It is the right risks in business, not high risk, that bring those huge rewards. But, media presentation of high risk, even when it does mention the importance of taking the right risks, continues to create imagery that can easily leave its audience focusing heavily on the glory of bold risks.

Just a few months ago, I wrote about this in my newsletter, which discussed how the portrayal of risky behavior by top executives can create the misguided impression that high risk is a key element in business success. And, more recently, we continue to see high risk portrayed quite favorably in the media.

For example, the recent (September/October 2019) feature “Meet the CNN Business Risk Takers” is “about the leaders making the biggest bets designed to push global business into the future.” It showcases “20 leaders. 20 big bets.”

The introduction to the online video on CNN Risk Takers actually does a good job pointing out the importance of getting the risks right. And, we are also reminded about getting the risks right elsewhere in CNN’s material. But, the imagery presented in the material seems to heavily glorify the taking of bold risks. Thus, the overall impression cast by the CNN Risk Takers material can easily leave the misguided impression that the boldest risks bring the greatest rewards.

It is beyond the scope of this blog post to analyze the risks featured on the 2019 CNN Risk Takers list to evaluate how those risks fit with strengths and, thus, may have good success potential. The important point is that merely taking bold risks is unlikely to bring success. Getting the risks right is so crucial. It is essential not to get lost in the imagery of bold risk taking to the point of neglecting factors that are important for getting the risks right. Again, CNN does tell us that, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in the boldness of it all when looking at the list.

Nonetheless, the 2019 CNN Risk Takers list offers valuable material about interesting high-powered business risks now being taken, ranging from exotic areas such as outer space tourism to corporate efforts at pivoting or responding to trends.  From this, CNN viewers/readers can gain valuable insights about the kind of innovation that is currently being pursued in the business community.

However, to get the most benefit from the material, it is essential not to become overly enamored with the boldest risk taking. It is valuable to remember what CNN states briefly at the beginning of the material: that it is important to get the risks right. That brief point in CNN’s introduction sets the tone for what is required to make the risks succeed. So, remember not to lose sight of that brief beginning while taking in the exciting material CNN presents about the bold risks that made the list. It’s the right risks, not high or bold risks, that lead to the greatest business success.

Incorporated later into its material, CNN does reinforce the point about taking the right risks. Yet, the imagery of boldness is so powerful. So, don’t let it obscure the message about taking the right risks.

If you’d like a workshop to enlighten your group about taking the right risks, just contact us.

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