Archive for 2010/08/02

Risks worth to take

In my previous blog post, Risky Business, I discussed why we shouldn’t be shy of risks. But of course there are risks what simply are not worth it. But how do we recognize them? I believe that the answer is that we in most cases don’t. The risks we in most cases should avoid are not the big obvious ones.

In Between a rock and a hard place, Aron Rolston tells a story of a beautiful morning. He decided as so many mornings before that to go climbing for the day. He jumped into his car, drove some miles and hiked to a mountain. He fell and his hand got stuck between a rock and the wall:


Image from Aron Ralston, taken during the ordeal. Photo credit: Aron Ralston

So, what happened? First, Aron cursed his bad luck, but during the upcoming days and nights stuck in that canyon, Aron realized that the problem was that he had done as always. Slacking on security he had not packed enough supplies and he hadn’t notified anyone where he was going. Basic security precautions. He had done the same hundreds of times before but had never seen that this was not a risk worth taking. The potential gain of his behavior had been negligible. Yes, he had had some kind of feeling of independence and freedom but he could have gain this too by leaving a note where he’d gone. Without even thinking about it, he had gradually become a person who felt that since he was such a good climber, he didn’t have to bother.

It is so easy to think that since you’re a class A climber of project manager or developer that the rules don’t apply to you. You don’t have to think about these risks. But you need to ask yourself: what do you stand to gain and what would be the consequences if you fall?

For example, we have the curse of multi tasking. Study after study tells us that multi tasking does not makes things completed faster. Quite the opposite. But still, we have concurrent tasks and projects and are amazed by the fact that things seem just to go slower.

Risk taking is sometimes fun and exciting. It can lead to real innovation and is a natural part of every day life but this does not mean that you should take all risks and most importantly: don’t forget the fundamental and every day risks which are easy to forget. Don’t get stuck between a rock and a hard place without having had the chance to gain something truly grand.

Categories: Agile