Your Pressure Relief Valve Must Work

8028302672?profile=originalThere is a pressure cooker analogy for driving business performance. That is, apply plenty of heat to the pot (which is your team) and keep the lid firmly shut. The team will push harder to reach their goals. As a safety mechanism, all pressure cookers have a relief valve and so the analogy goes, make sure you don’t overdo it and build up too much pressure. The reason is because one of two things would happen:

One is burn out and potential mental health issues. The other is that your team will find a “way” to get the job done. And that “way” may not be true to the organisational values or the team’s values or even your values.

If the pressure continues, the behaviours chosen continue. Soon the broader culture of the team reflects the new behaviours and becomes the new normal. As staff change over time, new staff come in and are inducted into the new normal. The poor culture is strengthened.

Then one day, someone finds out about the way you have been getting things done and points out the poor behaviour. Everyone starts looking for someone to blame. While the team made its own choices, the pressure they felt under was the cause.

Last week I wrote about Mark Bouris’ appeal to risk professionals to push back against over regulation and to help drive risk taking which drives innovation. Today I write with a word of caution. Be careful how you articulate the risk taking you want. And no matter how or how hard you apply pressure to your team, constantly reinforce the values of your organisation. Pressure is good but not at the expense of values.

This article from Forbes about Netflix is a great example of strong, hard innovation with the value of openness as the pressure relief valve.



Bryan's new book teaches you practical methods to cut through with your advice and make the impact you want to make. Available on Amazon or order here now.



Available on Amazon or order here now.

Bryan Whitefield works with strategic leaders across all sectors to help organisations harness uncertainty – uncertainty is the strategic leader’s best friend. He is the author of DECIDE: How to Manage the Risk in Your Decision Making and Winning Conversations: How to turn red tape into blue ribbon. He is the designer of the Risk Culture: Build Your Tribe of Advocates Program for support functions and the Persuasive Adviser Program for internal advisers. Both can be booked individually or in-house. For more information about Bryan, please click here.

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Bryan is a management consultant operating since 2001, specialising in risk-based decision making and influencing decision makers, born from his more than twenty years of facilitating executive and board workshops.

Bryan’s experience as a risk practitioner includes the design and implementation of risk management programs for more than 150 organisations across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

Bryan is the author of Risky Business : How Successful Organisations Embrace Uncertainty; Persuasive Advising : How to Turn Red Tape into Blue Ribbon, and Team Think : Unlock the Power of the Collective Mind [to be published in 2022].

He is licenced by the RMIA as a Certified Chief Risk Officer (CCRO) and is the designer and facilitator of their flagship Enterprise Risk Course since 2019.

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