The gap between ‘safety’, and ‘risk’ is quite small, although different for every person to comprehend. I was driven back to this thought time and again this week, across a number of different conversations that relate to ‘The Fear’ that i wrote about recently. Organisations want the good stuff: social collaboration, innovation, agility, but they are terrified of the other stuff (people expressing dissent, new opinions that don’t easily fit, subverting established power). This fear is sometimes catalogued as ‘moderation’, or a fear of bad people doing bad things, but, in reality, it’s often a fear of good people doing good things, but beyond our control or ownership.
The truth is that these are two sides of the same coin, and if you want to have the coin, you have to accept both faces. Sure: you can understand risk, you can frame it, you can influence it, but crucially you cannot make it entirely safe, because the very thing that you want is not ‘safe’. Ideas are not safe. Innovation is not safe. Learning is not safe. It’s about change: change in how we see the world, the generation of new stories, the evolution of old structures.
When faced with the gap between safety, and risk, it’s all too easy to err on the side of caution, but that may be to miss the point. The cliff edge that we stand upon is not stable: as the Social Age erodes many of our notions of organisation an control, it crumbles out from underneath us. We may fall into the abyss by trying to be too safe. True: we may also get into trouble if we blindly jump off the cliff, but there has to be a middle ground.
To change, we must learn how to change, and that means learning to learn, to prototype, to experiment, to explore, to accept risk and the fuel of change. And that change starts with you: the hardest change is to change ourselves.