Risk vs Reward

An interesting article started me thinking – are we stuck with the language of fear?

When we discuss strategy and projects we are always aware of risk. In fact we actively spend time on Risk Management where we weigh up the threats, problems and issues of the end point. We rarely, if ever, spend anytime looking at the flipside of risk – Reward. We get so focussed on one side of the argument we forget that the counter to risk is reward… its the point of taking risks in the first place.

I haven’t read Against Security – but I agree with many sentiments outlined in the article. Our response to risk is to alleviate it through security. But this way of thinking fails to take into account any measure of reward, particularly the reward of openness. Our solution always trends towards locking it down rather than to attempt open it up and counterbalance with reward. It’s in this climate we tend to be risk adverse, while what’s actually required is to move forward regardless of risk because the rewards are so large.

I really liked the idea put forward by Dan Russell in his Cranlana lecture. Putting feasibility first, that’s Dan’s answer to the challenge of how to make hard moral decisions. Feasibility is much more than risk management, it is a practical perspective on how to do things – and it includes rewards as part of those objectives.

What I’d like to see is a more balanced approach to decision making. I want Risk and Reward to be treated as equals. If we employ risk management, lets also consider managing rewards. Let’s stop automatically making life more difficult for our community of users in the quest to mitigate a small risk from a smaller and non-core user group.


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