Working with organizations all around the world, I often enjoy asking people provocative questions to have them reflect on what they believe versus what is a default position. It’s a way of teasing out what they really feel about the concept of risk.
A question I often ask is, “In a situation, with an either/or outcome, are you more likely to base a decision on what is best for the organization you work for, or on what is the least risky for you personally?”
Now, in a public forum, few will admit to putting their own personal needs ahead of the greater good, but in fact, our behavior suggests that we regularly, if not mostly, do the opposite.
A recent Trulia Study revealed that whilst most Americans (79%) state they care about the environment and are concerned about such issues as global warming, in practice, they will do little to change the situation. Particularly if it requires personal effort or expense.
This is a critical understanding in human behavior. We often rely on such strategies as logic and emotional appeal to drive positive change, when in fact, a risk-mitigation strategy may be more effective.
Instead of harping on about the “rightness” or even “righteousness” of our position, we would do better to make ourselves easier to agree with.
This starts with reducing the risk of converting to our world view – physically, reputationally and financially.