Sunday, September 9, 2012

Musing on Risk as action



The accomplished 
Dr. Verghese Kurien passed away yesterday. Some say he orphaned the little girl who appears in Amul advertisements. Social innovation was a huge risk in Dr. Kurien's times. He influenced millions of farmers to cooperate in milk distribution so that animal husbandry became a well supported activity. On my first visit to Gujarat in the 1990s, I desired to meet him, but am glad that I at least got the opportunity to visit the city of Anand to know from up close what the impact has been.Was shown around by my mother's cousin a resident doctor in the area then. He was traveling when I visited in the context of a conference organised by EDI - the Entrepreneurship Development Institute. That was my first brush with entrepreneurship theory and a first-hand exploration too. That was my first paper presentation outside of my alma mater (TISS).

In the same week as of this legend passing away, Kochuouseph Chittilapally of V-Gurad and Veegaland or Wonder-La fame was being honoured by the National Institute of Personnel Management in Kochi on the occasion of its National Conference. 

Mr. Sreedharan of the Konkan railways and Delhi Metro fame was being consulted for his prowess in the same space of time. The contrasts between the 3 profiles, an illustration of risk and innovation ingredients in accomplishments. It is also fascinating that cousins Ravi J Mathai and Verghese Kurien traveled to Gujarat to make their mark on the nation. That some who take risk also innovate may also be true. 

Last week, we went on a social visit to my dad's cousin. Innovative he still is. But risk is not a feature he would take to the marketplace. He has designed and crafted his own furniture, laid marble on the floor himself, developed a functional coconut scraper with his own hands on the welding machine; but he won't sell his ideas nor take it to an entrepreneur. That robs the joy out of doing it he says.
His late elder brother on the other hand was a maintenance engineer in paper factories. He learnt economic aspects of the production process and in his retired life had husk of grain and related material to make for water proof paper, which in bundles, he exported to other countries, from his own backyard.
Perhaps, he cultivated a business orientation during his career, that inspired the output side of his endeavours. 
The younger brother lacked the desire to engage the people in the commercial world. Am not saying the elder one was more adept at risk, but am sure, the brothers defined meanings in opportunities differently.

A friend recently wrote thus : “It has been my experience when moving deeply out of my comfort zone and watching others that it depends what part of a life is being put at risk and how important that part is in those moments.  There is the magic of the pull of the  moment--the taste of the challenge--the internal terror-the adrenalin"...My few bits of learning on this for now as below.
1.     Risk can easily be confused with impulsivity.

2.     Risk is a personally invested experience in the unknowns.

3.     Anxiety can impel risk, it can also grip in ways that control others. 

4.     Intuition and risk being related can make for innovation at times. Reducing risk to a logical procedure of finite steps is mocking at its essence.

5.     Mindfulness may help the self to engage in acts considered risky. Rationality may have little explanation for such choices, as presence in authentic form could augur higher outcomes than one plans for. 

What actions will make for your PRESENCE in our world? Will it be 'risky' to act so?