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John Adair's 100 Greatest Ideas for Smart Decision Making by John Adair

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Idea 40: Assessing risk

What makes decisions really difficult is the factor of high risk. You may recall the conflicting advice of the two proverbs Look before you leap and He who hesitates is lost.

There is an important skill in calculating risk. Calculation sounds mathematical, and there are plenty of management books with ‘decision making’ in the title that offer various ‘probability theories’ and statistical methods to take the pain out of risk assessment. Sometimes it can help to assign numbers and calculate in that way, but the contribution of mathematics to this field is very limited. Experience plays a much larger part.

One helpful idea is to define the worst downside: what happens in the worst scenario? Can you accept that, or will you ...

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