18 March 2021|Business Growth, Latest Posts
Felipe Polo, a digital entrepreneur, non-executive director and investor, shares how and why risk-taking is an integral element to drive innovation and growth.
Innovative companies that constantly evolve are often just so because of one key cornerstone of their culture: risk-taking. This simple but effective habit allows employees to embrace new things, fail fast and learn from mistakes, adopting new skills, becoming more creative and overcoming the dulling fear of failure in the process.
This willingness to take risks matures into a sense of entrepreneurship in many teams and they become driven by opportunities to constantly shift the odds of success with each new thing they try. With many organisations battling competitors in the marketplace, an entrepreneurial approach can allow you to stand out from the crowd, so I’ve collated my top tips to ensuring you’ve got the foundations to build on.
Reconsider your internal processes
There are many ways a company can re-evaluate processes and many alternative routes to take. For example, taking an agile approach to project management, which values trust, flexibility, empowerment and collaboration, enables teams to adapt throughout the process, finding the best solutions as they go, and working collaboratively to arrive at the outcome. Agile methods integrate planning with execution, allowing an organisation to create a working mindset that helps a team respond effectively to changing requirements, driving entrepreneurial thinking amongst individuals. However, it is important to remember that with any project progress, it cannot take place without taking measured risks. Keeping an element of structure can help even-out the balance of failing often, succeeding less.
Work risk-taking into your values
Vision and values are the foundations of a business, creating a framework for culture and a commitment from the organisation to its customers and employees, communicating how it will work, highlighting core elements of importance.
Including elements of risk taking in these values – like being bold, thinking differently or being prepared to challenge – can help build an ‘open’ culture, encouraging employees to think about different solutions to problems, rather than being focused on outputs.
Be generous with capacity
Allow time for your team to work with fresh eyes on the ideation of a project, as well as time to overcome problems that you may experience during the process. Team members who are rushed may skirt past a valued idea, so by giving enough lead time on a project, or to come to a solution, those with valid suggestions should be empowered to move ahead. Regardless of whether those ideas worked, or didn’t work, time should also be given to reflect on the decisions made and learn from them, feeding that knowledge back to the team.
Integrate into recruitment
After developing processes and values for current members of staff to adhere to, including entrepreneurialism in your hiring checklist is the next step. Asking candidates hypothetical questions such as, “What would you do if you received a strict timeline for this project?” or “What would you do if an error occurred in the first stage of this project?” will showcase whether the individual is happy going with the ‘safer’ status quo or is open to other routes.
Acknowledge smart risks
Rewarding only successes from risk-taking can lead to a negative and insular environment in the workplace. By acknowledging and rewarding smart risk-taking, you can encourage this behaviour in the broader workforce as they start to feel ‘safe’ to fail. Setting up internal award schemes and integrating acknowledgement into internal performance reviews is a great way to do this.
The key element here is ensuring both leaders and employees are taking calculated risks, to benefit the growth of the business and personal and professional growth of the workforce.
Migrating to this entrepreneurial way of thinking can separate your business from key competitors in the field, but work needs to be done by leaders to ensure employees are supported internally with new processes, that managers ‘lead from the top’ and that there is adequate recognition in place to champion those who do things differently for good reason.
About the Author
Felipe Polo is a digital-focussed entrepreneur, non-executive director and investor, who helps organisations align their tech, teams and business strategy.
Felipe has over 15 years of experience building high-performance teams internationally, transforming organisations through digital products and modern software delivery processes, using technology as a business lever and mentoring teams to enable them to reach their full potential.
Following the sale of GuideSmiths, which Felipe co-founded, in March 2021 to DCSL Software, forming DCSL GuideSmiths, Felipe retains a non-executive director position with the company to support the strengthened business.
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