"When did risk become a four-letter word? Even in a slow-growth economy, companies can't win big in the marketplace by doing things only a little bit better than the competition. Even in a conservative environment, it's hard to deliver a truly compelling message to customers if you sound like everyone else. Even with an unforgiving climate on Wall Street, merely cutting bottom-line costs doesn't do much to spur top-line growth."
I know about risk. It's much easier to take it on when one has less to lose. I also know that there are ways to hedge your risks. I worked in risk management consulting for several years. In my experience successful risk takers are not overly preoccupied with making mistakes. They learn and move on. They are also individuals who are willing to admit when they are wrong. After reading The Dip we call them quitters (in a good way).
Most importantly, these are people who minimize the downside and focus on what could go right. They are relentlessly upbeat problem solvers. To succeed in business - and in social media environments - today, one has to be made of this cloth. It's not just about resiliency and endurance - it's about flexibility and adaptability. These are qualities that will also serve organizations well.
This is your Organization
Looking to maximize profits and minimize expenses and costs. With systems and processes in place to render things efficient as much as possible. In many cases the entity itself has been around a long time and is looking to re-invent itself for the next level of the growth it seeks. Focusing on top-line growth is part of the business answer. In recent years, we have also seen increased awareness of the need to become a better experience for customers.
Where things get interesting is in customer-facing functions - product or service delivery, customer service, and communications and marketing messages. One response to expressing growth and change is through branding. Branding can be an apparently less risky proposition - put a nice front up, pump through messages, people will come and all is good.
It works when your brand is a killer app or a product that is so cool it flies off the shelves. Yet, when the novelty wears off, you may need to go to plan B even then. There is a bit more to it when you are not in one of those categories to begin with.
This is your Organization on Risk
And this is where things get interesting. If you have been on the same business treadmill year in, year out, hoping to catch up as the speed keeps increasing, good luck. The rest of the world has just passed you by and moved on. Faster, cheaper, good, just pick two goes the saying. There is no reason to panic. Get off the treadmill and do something different. Maybe you do it just for the sake of change at first.
Then you start growing into it. Then you start liking how it makes you feel. Then you are truly helping move the needle on how what you do makes others feel. That is when the feedback starts coming in. Resist the temptation to correct your customers when they mispronounce your product names, for example. In other words, embrace this moment of fuzziness and let go of the controls a little. You never had all the answers.
Your brand promise may become easier to fulfill when you are open to talking about it. This is where transparency comes in. It's amazing how much more forgiving and understanding people become when they get to know you. If you're planning to dip your toes in social media, don't wait to be perfect - just be yourself.
It turns out that the four-letter word could be play.