Innovation teams can struggle to get started because new development could be seen as “too risky”. So what can you do when leadership at your company grumbles about the risk?

Address the risks head-on

It’s well known that organizations are naturally risk-averse, so go ahead and address those risks. Make a list of things you think could go wrong. Ask management, “What is the worst thing that could happen if we try and fail?” After they share their fears, say, “Yes. I had some of those myself,” and then list a few of your own. 

Propose ways to limit those risks

After you’ve listed the things that could go wrong, it’s easier to manage them. Turn those risks into “How Might We’s”, and then think of a few ways you could address each one by either: 

  • removing that risk (find a different way to address the issue)
  • limiting that risk (like with a smaller experiment)
  • contrast the risk with the potential reward (define how it might still be worth it)

It all comes down to this

There will always be risk in trying something new, but there is also risk in doing nothing. 

  • Your competitor innovates before you do, or
  • The customer market moves on and leaves you beind, or 
  • Technology evolves and your company is left as “the way things used to be done.” 

The best way to address and manage risk, is by having a clear vision of the benefit to the company. And the best way to have clear vision is to follow a plan that helps you define and build that vision.

PS - Need help coming up with a plan to reduce product risk?

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PPS - This is the final post in a series of the 10 problems all innovation teams face.

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