Risky Business

Taking risks is serious business. Whether you’re gunning for your dream client or taking on the elephant of your industry, choosing the right risks propels you farther, faster.

How do you decide which risks are worth taking?

With advance apologies to those who study risk theory, I offer you two styles of risk-taking:

Science: You carefully assess what your competitors are doing. You research the market and take a strategic look at where your industry (and you) are headed. You calculate the costs and risks associated with each direction. You ask others you respect to weigh in. You run the numbers. In the end, your final decision on whether/how to act is based on what you can prove is most likely to succeed.

Art: You do some research, but rarely as much as the scientist. You ask your clients about their current and future needs. You observe nuances in your market that might escape someone less skilled at connecting the dots. You see white space—space where no one has gone before— and decide to own it. Your final decision is what you feel will work best.

But here’s the rub. It’s the rare firm (or soloist or team) that combines both. Imagine the breathtaking innovation that could arise from rock-solid research and analysis blended with truly creative thinking.

How risky a business is that?


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