Safe but Stifling
Is doing the safe thing the way to have a better result? Or
does it lead to your ultimate detriment? That’s a question
worthy of an experiment. As for the results, you have them
here in my golfer’s (or CEO’s) guide to risk management.
I love golf. It is truly a great sport. It is a perfect balance of
experiment. In two rounds
this month, I implemented two
completely opposite risk strategies.
For the first game, I decided to
play very conservatively.
I would lay-up if I thought I might
get into trouble. I would use a lesser
club off the tee just to keep the
ball in play. While swinging, I only
focused on striking the ball with an
easy, smooth rhythm.
My key objective was to
consistently follow a process. I
wanted to assure good form for each
and every swing, every strike, every
ball flight. I didn’t want to hit a stray
shot, lose a ball, or exhaust myself
beating the club into the ground.
For the next game, I went for the
gusto. I took every risk I could. My
focus was to make birdie on every
hole. No, I wanted to make eagle on
every hole. My objective was to sink
every putt. Never leave a putt short. I
didn’t care what my swing looked or
Indeed, I hit some majestic shots.
Soaring, flying, drifting, fading,
hooking, slicing, everywhere you
could imagine. I lost nine balls that
round and received nine penalty
strokes. I was exhausted by the end.
I set my expectations so high
that when I failed, I was angry and
frustrated. The angrier I got, the
harder I swung. The harder I swung,
the less accurate I was.
When I compared the two games,
I absolutely scored better by playing
it safe. I hit the ball easily and it went
where I expected it to go. I didn’t lose
any balls and therefore didn’t have
any penalty strokes. Because I set
my goals with the process in mind, I
didn’t care that I didn’t make par on
But does playing it safe and risk-free make you a winner in the long
run? I played easy golf and scored
well but for some reason I didn’t feel
very satisfied. I had this nagging
feeling that I could have done better.
I didn’t feel as though I pushed
myself. I played the easy route. Less
risk meant less reward.
In the full throttle game I played
as hard as I could and my voracious
risk appetite caused me to score
quite poorly. But somehow that form
of play left me with more optimism.
I imagined harnessing my best
holes and repeating them for 18
consecutive holes next time. It was
So when it comes to defining risk
appetite, I realized it is a truly tricky
concept. In business, we routinely
have to balance risk and reward
in the pursuit of organizational
perfection — the aspiration of all
leaders — the perfect round, the
perfect deal, the perfect presentation,
the perfect opportunity.
If we don’t strive to be the best we
can be, if we settle for mediocrity we
may never maximize our potential.
And we may never win the green
JOANNA MAKOMASKI is a specialist
in innovative enterprise risk management
methods and implementation techniques. She
can be reached at email@example.com.
; Joanna Makomaski
risk and reward — a battle of mental
and physical abilities.
It is a game you play against
yourself and within yourself. At the
end of a day, you add up your score
and know that you, and only you,
own that score. There is no one to
blame or steal the reward. It is all on
you. I love that.
As of late, I started to focus on the
impact of taking risks when playing.
I wondered: If I were to take more
risks while playing, would I score
better? Would my risk-taking give me
So I decided to conduct an
The chameleon is well known for its ability to change color and adapt to its surroundings.
It is nature’s solution to surviving in a challenging environment. Risk comes in every color
—it’s rarely black and white. The risk management world is always changing.
RSG Underwriting Managers’ specialty MGU facilities excel in this world by using
experience, creativity and expertise to provide unique solutions to challenging risks.
Contact RSG Underwriting Managers at (855) 201-2000 or visit www.ryansg.com.
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NOT ALL RISKS ARE
BLACK AND WHITE.