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Support: Dealing with Stress in the Workplace

Risk-taking and Mistakes [2.10.1c14]

According to Paul J.H. Schoemaker and Robert E. Gunther in The Wisdom of Deliberate Mistakes, risk taking can pay off. Consider the possibility that failure and loss can be looked upon as a learning experience. The following points may be helpful when deciding whether a suggestion or risk should be tried:
  • Will the reward outweigh the possible loss? This is not just a budget issue, but also one that should take into consideration resources, morale, improved relationships, and organizational growth. Is there a greater up side than a down side to failure?
  • Is the reason you currently “do it” a certain way based on an assumption? Decisions that are made based on an assumption—even a logical assumption—may allow for some wiggle room. Is the status quo working?
  • If you have always done something a certain way based on a proven fact, has the “fact” changed? Facts change based on your evolving environment, target audience, situation, or workplace diversity situation.
Schoemaker and Gunther suggest the following steps to “make profitable mistakes” once you decide to try an alternative approach:

“1. Identify your assumptions.
List deeply held assumptions about core areas of your business.
2. Select assumptions for testing. Ask what you'd do differently if you knew an assumption was false. The greater the impact on your organization of discovering an erroneous assumption, the more valuable disputing it may be.
3. Create mistake strategies.

4. Execute the mistake.

5. Learn from the mistake.” 
What can be learned from the mistake? If nothing else, you will learn what not to do.

“I have learned the novice can often see things that the expert overlooks. All that is necessary is not to be afraid of making mistakes or of appearing naive.” Abraham Maslow (1908 - 1970), American Psychologist.

[1] Schoemaker, Paul, J.H. Gunther, Robert E., (2006, June 1). The wisdom of deliberate mistakes. Retrieved February 8, 2008, from BNET Web site

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