" Creativity is just connecting things. You ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.
That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they've had more experiences or have thought more about their experiences than other people.
said Steve Jobs, adding "Unfortunately, that's too rare a commodity. A lot of people haven't had very diverse experiences, so they don't have enough dots to connect and they wind up with very linear solutions." - Steve Jobs.
Then there is another problem... these creative solutions can be unlike what we have done before and risk-aversion starts to kick-in. Executives often seem to play safe because of their own exposure to risk.. "if it goes wrong my peers will know that I signed the cheques. So although it looks attractive I think I will not join the journey as the territory looks hostile."
Whilst this may make shorter-term personal exposure to risk seem more comfortable the longer term might be very bumpy!
Picture uploaded by Odalaigh. Used with thanks under CC.
One of the activities of design is to make the future tangible, in such a way that it can be explored and validated to the satisfaction of the core team which should include potential users/consumers and the extended team. But risk looked at in the round has different impacts:
An interesting article by Deloitte Australia's Jenny Wilson & Gerhard Vorster entitled Innovation and Risk (pdf download) talks of...
"The strategic risk of failing to innovate:
The argument for innovation only holds when it is managed well, and as previously stated this means that it must deliver realisable value. At best, the failure to deliver value is a costly exercise; at worst it can raise undue risk on an organisation’s existing business. The inability to realise value is often due to poor definition, poor timing of investment and/or poor management of innovation. Too often organisations conceptualise innovation as delivering the radical ‘blockbuster’ idea that is often inventive in nature, untested and unproven. By approaching innovation this way, organisations are inadvertently operating at the high investment, high risk end of the innovation spectrum, and leaving the value of sustainable, incremental innovation on the table. Take Apple as an example; having developed the iPod, the company has now entered a phase of sustaining, incremental innovation (eg. the Shuffle) that continues to marginalise the threat of ensuing ‘me-too’ competition. By allowing innovation to act incrementally as well as radically, organisations achieve a portfolio of investment that balances the level of risk and the timing of realised value."
In a similar vein in the blog entry Death by risk aversion Kathy Sierra wrote...
"Memo to Microsoft: you've got people doing some amazing things over there. If you could just get the hell out of the way, the world might change for the better.
Risk-aversion is the single biggest innovation killer, and of course it's not just Microsoft that's been infected. Taking risks is... risky. But if not taking risks is even riskier, then WTF?
Sure the big companies have it bad and may fall the hardest if they don't get a clue and a cure, but none of us is immune. You see the safe path everywhere. Today at lunch I had one of those conversations with a co-author about the cover of the next Head First book, and there I was suggesting a "safer" cover model than the one he wanted (complete with all the logical reasons why people could complain about his choice). I still can't believe the words that were coming out of my mouth."
..."But back to Microsoft... as I said in my previous post, Robert Scoble kept using the phrase "risk-averse" when defining some of Microsoft's problems. And I heard the same thing from Liz Lawley, who has been fascinated by the disconnect between the wonderful ideas MS employees have for products and services, and the final products and services released to the public. Somehow, according to Liz, fear steps in between those two points."
"Keep reminding yourself that life is short!
One of the benefits of having a scary illness or major loss is that it reminds you of just how much time is ticking away, and that you always have options to make changes. If you have a great idea, what do you risk by not pursuing it? Will you have more regrets if you try and fail than if you don't try at all? Some of the best and biggest ideas happen within the scope of large companies, but some of the most world-changing happen... elsewhere."
So work out what you and your organisation knows by design to create a story that intrigues the potential consumer and delivers in a way that delights the user/consumer/customer... in concert with your partners within and outside the organisation.
Brands are made in the Mind;
Products are made in a Factory and
Design connects the Two.
How well we build that connecting bridge will determine how seriously our offer will be taken and well we create genuine and lasting value for all those involved in the project; from consumer via producer to creator.
Picture uploaded by borkur.net. Used with thanks under CC.