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  • miketrup

What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

How many times have I heard the Classic coaching question 'What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?' Far too many, in my not particularly humble opinion. In life in general and business in particular, an honest appraisal of the risk-reward ratio that provides real context to a decision is incredibly under-utilised.

As a management team evaluating a new decision or investment, one of the key questions we would debate is 'What happens if it all goes wrong? Can we survive such an outcome and, if so, how much might it hurt?' The next question is '"What do we win if it it works and how might these two possible outcomes relate to each other?" There can be little point in risking £1,000 if the upside is only £100. (Note I say 'little' not 'no point', because there may be strategic outcomes that would make it a valid decision.)

The implementation of any decision involves a commitment of resources, such as management time, money or work-life balance. There is also always an opportunity cost and in the real world risk of failure, often due to matters outside of your control. I prefer a mature and realistic appraisal of risks and rewards rather than pure optimism and woo-woo. 'Feel the fear and do it anyway...but only if it makes sense from a risk-reward ratio point of view!

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