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Is your CUlture risk averse?

Morgan Spurlock, known for his film “Super Size Me,” spoke at TED earlier this year and shared everything he had to go through in order to present his movie idea for “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” to the brands he was trying to get to become sponsors / part of the movie. I love the TED talks and it was entertaining to watch Spurlock poke fun at the numerous big ad agencies that represented big national brands yet couldn’t quite grasp the big idea of his movie. But I wasn’t completely wowed until he made this comment as part of his closing:

“When you train your employees to be risk averse, then you are preparing your whole company to be reward challenged.”

For those of you that may not know the term, risk aversion is about making the “safe” choices, opting for less risk even when the potential reward from a different course of action is much greater. And, as Morgan Spurlock points out, when risk aversion becomes the internal culture, then the opportunities for rewards go away. For everyone.

It’s not that way everywhere, of course. CEOs of most organizations know they have to take some risk to reap any rewards. In fact, most CEOs got to be CEOs because they took chances and seized opportunities. Yet, most credit union CEOs are from a background (CFO) that has been trained at an early age to be risk averse. Is it any wonder that your internal culture reflects that bias?

Marketers, on the other hand, are always willing to try new things; they are the natural risk-takers – which makes it even more important for Marketing to stir the pot, to push the envelope, to make those numbers people uneasy. You are the only one who can make management understand that what you do is an investment instead of an expense, and that marketing is the only thing that grows membership and income. So build your plan. State your case. Take that leap!

And when you start bringing in the results, you can start changing the culture. For everyone.

Tell us what you think.