Why Risk is Not Negotiable

Change is always risky. Right?

You can’t be sure what results you’ll get. You don’t don’t what unintended consequences might arise from your new approach. You don’t know how people will react… though you have your suspicions it won’t all be positive.

What is even more risky than change, though, is not changing.

Gordan McDonald in his fictional change fable ‘Who Stole My Church‘, makes the following observation –

“an organisation… that was considered to be the best of the best at one point in time is likely to lose most of its advantage when there’s massive historical change, or, as Barker puts it, paradigm shift. If that organisation doesn’t take the changes seriously and ask what they mean and make suitable adjustments, it will find itself losing ground, maybe going out of existence. In fact, it’s not just suitable adjustments, it may mean total reinvention.”


Why change matters

It’s a principle that increasingly holds true for any kind of organisation, any group of people trying to accomplish something together in the world. The famous business guru Peter Drucker talks about the progression of human cultures whereby we see society utterly reorganising itself – it’s worldview, values, political systems, social structures, arts… everything – completely different.

It’s been happening steadily throughout history, and it’s happening at an even more breathtaking rate today. At a certain point, you look around and realise that the world in which you live is not the world into which you were born. And, more importantly, that those born today cannot possibly even imagine the world which preceded them by even a few decades.


So what does this mean for how we approach risk-taking and change?

This means that, whether it be in business, church, arts, or any other kind of endeavour with others in society, we need to keep changing like we need to keep breathing. If we don’t, we will stagnate; suffocate. Irrelevant will eventually relegate us to obscurity.

But it is still a risk. It is still painful to change. Human nature leans towards repeating what has gained us success in the past, rather than asking the hard questions about what will best position us for success in the future. Too often, as Rainer and Geiger put it, “the pain of change is greater than the pain of ineffectiveness.”


So why bother?

It’s a risk we have to take. If what we are trying to do matters (and if it doesn’t why are we bothering?), then we have to demand of ourselves that we don’t play it safe. We must continue to constantly re-evaluate:

– How relevant our approaches are

– What changing circumstances and trends might be affecting our outcomes

– What increased opportunities might be opening up


We must be willing to risk the changes that will keep us effect, relevant and deliberate in our lives!


Question: In what areas of your life or work might you need to re-evaluate the need for change?