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Achieving Breakthrough Innovation: Five Steps to Dealing with Risk and Uncertainty

breakIt is impossible to have innovation without risk.   If it were possible it wouldn't be called “innovation”, but maybe something like “the norm.”  Even if a large risk is justified, it must still be managed properly. This is the point of an article by Miton Adhikari:

How many times have you heard, “great idea” and, “risky” in one sentence?   If you're a company wanting to make a big jump in innovation, the answer is, plenty.   Yet, every year we see companies taking risks head-on and succeeding-like Mars launching a new line of chocolates named Dove, an established soap bran; or Unilever rolling out Mentadent toothpaste with a dispensing system alien to the toothpaste world.   Great rewards many justify high risks but companies cannot succeed consistently without managing those risks.   The companies that win understand the risks, take a calculated approach to the development process and continuously manage uncertainty along the way.

When you set your goals high, you should set your standard for preparation even higher.   Adhikari stresses gathering data, setting standards, and creating templates to prepare you for your goal.   Next you must evaluate your standards and your goal by conducting strategic assessment, assessing risk and uncertainty, and performing a value-based assessment.   Allowing peers and experts to look at your work after you have reviewed it may open your eyes to a reality check.   If this goal or project is your metaphorical baby, it will be hard to gauge any flaws without the help of others.   Furthermore, peer reviews allow for credibility through transparency as well as the ability to incorporate best practices.

After you have gathered enough information and advice to proceed with the project, improving your decision making steps will enable you to gain the greatest benefit from your risk.   Adhikari notes that making trade-offs and improving as you go will lead to the best possible outcome.  Being fluid is important.  Increasing uncertainty tracking will allow you to make risks and check them at the same time. Although there will be risks in innovation, there is no reason those risks cannot be well managed.


About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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