To achieve Step 11, individuals will show that they can assess opportunities to identify the risks and gains that they might achieve from them.
In earlier steps, the focus was on how to look for opportunities in difficult situations, and then to adapt or develop plans in response. This step builds on this by thinking about the risks and potential gains in those situations, and how to identify them.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
Risks are those things that might happen, which would have an adverse (or negative) effect. These are sometimes thought of as dangers or threats to life – and such things are certainly risks. Most risks though are more mundane – like financial losses, or the loss of the opportunity to do something else.
Risks might come from the activity itself, or the broader environment. For instance, a project might be affected by events outside of its control, like a natural disaster or a pandemic. Both are worth capturing when thinking about a plan.
When we think about risks, there is a level of uncertainty – they are something that might happen. This means that we often think about risks in two dimensions:
Potential gains are those things that might happen which would have a positive effect. These are the intended positive outcomes as a result of undertaking the project.
These gains might be captured in a financial model. This sometimes means that we have to attach values to certain outcomes. For instance, the UK Government’s Green Book helps to show what the value of certain outcomes of a project might be – from the value of reducing a decibel of aeroplane noise to a household to cleaning up a river.
In order to calculate the potential gains, we also have to take out the direct costs of the project so that we are left with the net gain as a result of the project. For instance, a project that creates £10 of value, but costs £8 to implement has a net gain of £2 before we introduce the risk considerations.
At other times, we might simply identify the positive outcomes that we are trying to achieve without trying to attach financial values.
The trick, then, is to make sure that we have considered both the expected gains and risks when making a decision about whether to pursue a project.
If financial values have not been attached, then this is likely to be about having a discussion and making a judgement. This is probably appropriate for small decisions, where participants have a good understanding of what they are doing.
For bigger decisions and major projects, there is normally an expectation that risks and returns will be considered in financial terms to make sure the project is worth doing before it is started.
Educators work hard to reduce any risks in learning environments. When a learner thinks there is a risk, it is important that they take time to think about what the opportunities might be. For example, having to answer questions in a class or do a presentation in front of a group may bethought of as a ‘risk’ – what if they say the wrong thing or forget what to say? The risk of embarrassment might prevent the student from contributing, but what if they may get the answer correct or deliver a great presentation which everyone enjoys, resulting in good grades. Making sure that both risks and opportunities have been considered is important.
In the workplace, as decisions are made, it is essential that the impact of any risk is considered along with their likelihood. Percentage probabilities can be given to different outcomes, both the positives and the negatives. The positives may be referred to as potential gains. These would be the desirable or intended outcomes as a result of any project within a business or organisation. This is when a value is attached to a certain outcome of a project. The value may be seen as an increased profit or income, or an environmental or social gain.
Risks are those things that might happen which would have a negative effect on an individual, a family or a community for example. Some risks can be thought of as dangers or threats to life such as natural disasters, serious accidents or illnesses. Other risks, whilst not necessarily dangerous, can have serious consequences, such as financial losses to individuals or organisations, and impact on a community. Driving a car very fast for example may get you to where you want to go quicker, but if you are involved in an accident as a result of speeding or get caught speeding, the consequences could be far reaching and very serious. Due to the uncertainty of risks, it is always worth thinking about what would happen if the risk did happen and also what the likelihood of the risk happening might be so that you are best informed as you make a decision.
To best practise this step of Staying Positive, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This step can be effectively reinforced in several subject areas, particularly business studies, economics, geography and history. Current affairs can also be a great source of timely examples about the importance of weighing up gains and risks when making decisions.
This step is best assessed in combination:
This step will be relevant to individuals who weigh up situations at work as part of a process of deciding what actions to take.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through discussion. For instance:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: