Association Risk Aversion: Is it Just an Aversion to Action?

Risk aversion. “We are a risk averse culture.” I hear this one on a regular basis.

I facilitate a lot of association strategy sessions with organizations of all size. Public companies, private companies, public sector, associations, and not for profits. A common occurrence in all those sessions is that I often find myself asking the same question: “why haven’t you tried this before?” At that point in the meeting when the clear objectives start to emerge, I might say something like: “This course of action seems like a good strategy for your organization and you are all in agreement. You have many of the skills and resources to accomplish what you are proposing.Why haven’t you tried this before?”

Someone will usually say: “That’s a good question. This is a very risk averse culture.” Big Pause. “We have never really dedicated the effort to figure out how to get started on this one.” Bingo. Let’s rename Aversion to Risk to “Aversion to Action.”

Association Risk Aversion

One thought on “Association Risk Aversion: Is it Just an Aversion to Action?

  1. I am not convinced that risk aversion is necessarily an aversion to action. I think it is more closely tied to an aversion to change. More importantly, risk aversion is a significant barrier to strategic thinking. If we are going to create high performing, strategic thinking Boards, we may need to focus on reducing the aversion to risk.

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