One of the topics that is often discussed in the context of corporate innovation and decision making is how risk sensitive a company is. While corporate "culture" tends to influence individual decision making style, employees can vary widely in their personal comfort level when dealing with decisions that involve ambiguity, uncertainty and risk. Today, we discuss one effective way to help manage anxiety when facing a decision making situation. Even if one isn't clinically anxious, he/she may still be episodically very uncomfortable with decisions that involve risk. In these instances it can be helpful to do a "reality check" to help push oneself through an episode of workplace anxiety in order to make a sound business decision.
Let's say that you must decide whether or not to approve the release of your company's consumer product to its New England test market. The technical testing has come back clean overall, though there are a couple of borderline flags (though nothing definitive) on a product attribute. You're satisfied that the product is on spec, but you are still concerned about the potential risks associated with the outlier. The go/no go decision is yours alone to make and you must make it now. You're feeling quite anxious. What to do? Ask yourself these questions, being as honest and objective as you can (assuming that you have already reviewed all of the available data and consulted with expert colleagues to ensure that you fully understand it):
What is the absolute worst thing that could happen if I choose to go (or not go) forward?
Could I (and the company) live with the outcome/consequences if the worst case actually occurred?
Could I/we recover, if necessary?
Realistically, what is the likelihood of the worst case occurring?
After doing this "reality check", you should be in a much better position to objectively judge the true risks associated with the decision, and to make your choice as clear-headedly as possible. I'm not saying that the decision making becomes simple...only that you likely will have substantially reduced the effects that anxiety might otherwise have on your ability to make a good decision.