With recent health scares and a surge in terrorism threats, we’ve heard many public servants justify their actions as being “out of an abundance of caution.” Of course what they really mean is “there’s virtually no chance anything bad is going to happen, but we’d all freak out a bit less if I do this. And, by the way, if anything remotely related to what we’re afraid of occurs, I’ve covered my butt.”
For many organizations outside of the government sector, making decisions “out of an abundance of caution” might as well be in their mission statement.
It’s out of an abundance of caution that we keep repeating old strategies and tactics hoping for different outcomes.
It’s out of an abundance of caution that we keep measuring and rewarding people the same way we have for years despite seismic industry shifts.
It’s out of an abundance of caution that we don’t budget for innovation.
It’s out of an abundance of caution that we keep hiring and promoting folks who look and think just the way we do.
It’s out of an abundance of caution that we’re afraid to experiment.
When government officials exercise overkill on precautionary measures at least they are trying to prevent large number of people from getting killed or injured.
When leaders in businesses or NGO’s do it, they may think they are being prudent. Yet in fact it’s an abundance of caution that is precisely the reason their organization is becoming more risky every day.