Risk is inherent in innovation and in many other aspects of business and life. How do we deal with it? Some people avoid risk. If you don’t take many chances, then you won’t have many failures. Few people claim to take this approach, but in business it is easy to take the safe road and stay with the status quo.  Others take many risks and are over confident in their approach. Sometimes you see them succeed, but often they get even more confident, and then take unnecessary chances. For them failure is not an option, it is inevitable.

Where do we find the balance? An example occurred recently when two people with jet packs attempted to fly in formation with an Airbus A380. This appeared to be very risky with lots of moving parts that could go wrong. The flyers have wings strapped to their backs with small jet engines attached. The plane is one of the largest in existence. How many of us would jump out of a helicopter and try to fly around a plane at that speed?

At first I thought, “This is crazy, why would anyone take the risk?” Then as I watched the video, one of the solo pilots gave an interesting insight. Yves Rossy, known as Jetman, stated “to reduce these risks, there is a lot of preparation.”

We cannot eliminate risk, but there are things we can do to control, or mitigate it. Do we have the willingness to take the time to prepare and be ready, and reduce the risk to a manageable level? Here are several ideas to help to manage your risk with your innovation.

1. Recognize the Risk – You don’t have to dwell on the potential pitfalls, but you do need to know that they exist. If you look for them and acknowledge them, then you can take steps to avoid them.

2. Reduce the Risk – Once you see the potential risks, take the necessary steps to avoid them. If you just say, “Don’t worry that won’t happen to us,” you may find yourself in a lot of trouble when it does. Take steps to avoid potential problems, and be ready for them if they occur.

3. Prepare – If you are prepared, you do not have to fear risk. Have your innovation or project as ready as possible. Don’t take unnecessary shortcuts. If you have done all that you can to prepare, then the risk may just be worth it.

This Blog was originally posted November 13, 2015.

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