In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss risk aversion. The U.S. has stopped distributing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It has been given to more than 7 million people, and there have been six reported cases of blood clotting. Here in Denmark, we have stopped giving the Astra Zeneca vaccine because of one similar case. That is not risk management, that is risk aversion.
There is a classic short story from 1911 by Stephen Leacock called "The Man in Asbestos." It is from the time where fire-resistant asbestos was considered one of the miracle materials of the future. The narrator travels to the future to find a drab and risk-averse society where aging has been eliminated together with all disease. People can only die from accidents, which is why everybody wears fire-resistant asbestos clothes, railroads and cars are outlawed, and society becomes completely stagnant.
We are moving in that direction. Large organizations have departments of innovation prevention, often called compliance, risk management, or QA. They point out all the risks, and it takes courageous leadership to look at the larger benefit and overrule the objects of the naysayers. Smaller organizations can out-innovate larger ones because they spend their leadership time on innovation and growth and instead of on fighting organizational units dedicated to preserving the status quo.
As an IT leader, it is your job to make sure your organization doesn't get paralyzed by risk aversion.
Beneficial Intelligence is a weekly podcast with stories and pragmatic advice for CIOs, CTOs, and other IT leaders. To get in touch, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org