We live today in a business climate that seems obsessed by the need to identify, quantify, analyse, manage, mitigate and otherwise corral risk in all its forms. While we fight these battles on the risk management front, we might be risking losing the war of survival of the fittest.

Success represents the biggest risk of all. Whether we look at the fall of Rome or the decline of the British Empire, the embarrassment of Fannie Mae, the collapse of the subprime market the first time, the second time, and no doubt the third, the list of such wars lost is long and examples ubiquitous.

In our compulsive, it seems, desire to tame risk, how do we handle this one? How can we tell when what looks and feels like success is actually the beginning of the end? This is a difficult task, as fish cannot see water. Stepping outside of ourselves to try to discern and interpret the augurs requires constant effort, rigorous vigilance, and effective mirrors. And we are trying to do this at the very time when the livin’ is just too easy. The money is rolling in, and it is so much easier just not to think about it. Discipline is a forgotten concept as we revel in rewards. We must be doing something right. Right?

Wrong. At that point, where profits are flowing and we are on top of the world, we are deaf, dumb and blind. What to do? First, a home truth. Anyone, any entity, person, organisation, institution, civilisation can fail and many do, all the time. Everyone is vulnerable, and never more vulnerable than when at the peak of success. No one is too powerful or successful to succumb. Thus humility is an imperative as we remember that we all put on our pants one leg at a time.

Jul-Sep 2014 Issue

Solon Group, Inc.