i was recently listening to a podcast on itunes u called the design thinking: a new type of leadership. the speaker for the event is a man by the name of banny banerjee, an associate professor at stanford’s institute of design (or d.school). in his talk, he mentioned something that really resonated with me, and it was about risk.

“risk aversion is actually very risky behavior because with every moment that you’re looking at risk averseness you are also throwing away a lot of seemingly improbable ideas, but those are the ones that might allow you to make a leap rather than just make an incremental advancement.”

that’s awesome stuff, honestly.

this quote directly spoke to me because of my line of work. one of the specific capabilities that i’m expected to bring to the market as a consultant is an understanding and assessment of risk. the way that we plan our projects looks at risk and focuses on avoiding those situations. when we’re developing ideas and recommendations for our clients we are often looking at the least risky solution of a given set of possible solutions.

i’m thinking now that perhaps this isn’t really the right approach. what good is it to live in the center? true innovation happens at the fringes.perhaps what i should be doing isdouse myself in it; i gotta get lousy with risk.

naturally, for all instances this won’t work. there’s certainly a defining line between accepting risk and poor judgement. but keeping one foot across that line might not be such a bad idea. as they say, you gotta be in it to win it.

apple took a certain level of risk when they first introduced their multi-colored line of imacs and ibooks. how would people respond to these candy-colored computers? well, quite positively actually! many people believe it marked the changing point in apple’s history — the tipping point which led to the resurgence of the computer maker in the home computer market.

microsoft took a gigantic risk when they entered the video game console market with their original xbox. the sony playstation was the best-selling console of all time with a large library of games available on the market, including both exclusive sony titles (like the metal gear franchise) and an extensive list of third party titles. with the dawn of the playstation 2, there was really not much reason to expect anything else from the sequel. but where the playstation lagged behind in online multiplayer, the xbox capitalized thanks in part to the creation of their own exclusive franchise — a little thing called halo.

so don’t shy away from risk. identify it, and use it to your advantage. rub risk all over you; roll around in risk. you might just be onto the next big thing.