Weekly Grooves

The Art of Communicating Risk

October 17, 2020

This week we look at how we communicate risk and uncertainty.  In an article from Harvard Business Review titled, “The Art of Communicating Risk” by Anne Cleaveland, Cussins Newman, and Steven Weber, the authors outline how communicating risk, particularly uncertain risk, is at the very least, difficult.

Sometimes, the recipients of the message are underestimated; however, we are actually pretty good at coping with “straightforward bad news.” Our communication style and frequency matter the most when we face uncertainty, especially in situations where we can’t tell how bad something might be.

The article identifies a common dilemma that firms wrestle with: whether to err on the side of communicating too much or too frequently, OR not enough and too infrequently.  The idea is that both have negative consequences and finding the sweet spot is challenging.

Our discussion focuses a behavioral lens on three directives that companies should consider in risk communication. First, stop improvising. Second, change the metric for success and measure the results. And finally, design risk communications from the beginning. 

We hope you enjoy this week’s discussion of the application of behavioral science and, if you did, please take a moment to give us a quick rating or review. We hope you go out and find your groove this week.



HBR Article: The Art of Communicating Risk: https://hbr.org/2020/09/the-art-of-communicating-risk?utm_campaign=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=97432048&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8nQTZBdA_wxHEidLHYRdp--uNeQFG7seEZUAH681QXpA_PSP5Ql8Qt7Jt9FpF6LLA2Usx4qQ0V2kPMCyGh_d4a-MqrQQ&utm_content=97432148&utm_source=hs_email

Anurag Vaish, co-founder of The Final Mile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anurag-vaish-1987818/?originalSubdomain=in

Teresa Amabile, PhD: https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=6409

Premortem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-mortem#:~:text=A%20pre%2Dmortem%2C%20or%20premortem,of%20the%20project%20or%20organization.

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