Successful Company Trait: Taking Chances

By Edwin Miller, CEO

As we continue CEO, Edwin Miller’s count down of the Google Principles series, we recount the four principles previously covered:

  • #9 – Birds of a Feather, Flock Together – Recruiting the Best and Brightest
  • #8 – Build a Profitable Business Model – Personally and Professionally
  • #7 – Value Proposition – Keep it Super Simple
  • #6 – Successful Companies Keep Focus on Their Core Business

We are now discussing #5 – Take a Chance!

The fifth principle Google demonstrates well is taking chances.  They will make a bet and attempt to create a new market. They did this with “search”, and they continue, with Alphabet, to invest in areas that are outside of their comfort zone. For example: Google is late to the game on a cloud offering, but they are hiring strong leaders to take their technology to market and attack AMZN AWS. Another example is attacking the cell phone market with the pixel. Will these be successful? It is hard to say, but Google has a knack for taking a chance and then measuring results in a relentless manner. Every business must re-invent themselves to not only thrive but survive. Consider what is occurring during COVID. Many businesses will not survive given a tired business model that lacked innovation. To innovate, we need to perform well in our change management processes as this is a must for all businesses.

Now, let’s discuss how this principle can impact our personal lives. As we discuss this area, keep in mind, that what we do personally will impact the outcomes for the businesses in which we compete. Our level of personal drive will impact our workforce engagement. So often in our own personal lives we stop taking chances and play it safe. We find ourselves beaten down, afraid, not willing, or just fearful to take a chance on something new or different. We may have experienced failure, a bad market, or the inability to reach our goals that were once formed in our youthful minds.

Know that with great risk comes great reward. While there is wisdom in knowing when to slow down or even when to play it safe, if you want to hit that homerun you’re going to have to swing for the fence. It has been a constant Google principle to reinvent categories, technology, brands, offerings, media, software…. We must have the courage and gutsy audacity to do the same. We must be willing to place a flag in the sand and say, “this beach is ours!” This is not a monetary principle; it is more of a character trait in innovative and successful people. The person that tries new things and fails is stronger than the person that never tried. I love the quote from Thomas Edison that reads, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Even if we fail, we will have learned. We will have experienced something others, the folks that are not willing to even step up to bat, have never experienced! The interesting thing about taking a chance or risk takers in general, is that the failure rate is really not that much different from the guy who always plays it safe. Peter Drucker shares this sentiment, “People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.” Have a look at the image and be sure to read how MJ thinks about taking a chance. Use whatever tools are available to you to measure the business climate you are in, make your best judgments based on the facts you have…and then, Take That Chance!