On a + note


Innovation requires mitigating risk. #37: 2012

Posted in on a + note by flickfancy on October 22, 2012

Successful innovation means mitigating and minimizing risk while still moving ahead with a great new idea. I’ve been mulling over this idea lately. How does risk impact innovation.

Risk is defined as “a probability or threat of damage, injury, liability, or loss that may be neutralized through thoughtful actions.” I think of risk for libraries as a three-legged stool. Each leg represents a facet of risk that needs to be addressed systematically in order to encourage and support innovative thinking. The three legs include:

► Technical risk: Assess whether the new idea or program will actually work better than the current service or program. As Albert Einstein observed, “any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move the opposite direction.”

Libraries need to enhance productivity and to expand their reach by designing and then delivering new services and programs that embrace technology, are simple, and really make a difference.

►Market risk: Assessing the market means understanding our competitors (e.g. Chapters, the hockey rink, or “Big Bang Theory”) and exactly what library customers need from their library. Real market research can provide a competitive edge in this arena. (You know I would incorporate marketing in risk management!)

►Execution risk: Manage the work and project launch better. Libraries’ dedication to exceptional customer service and commitment to ease-of-use really comes into practical application. If the new, innovative idea adds more complexity to the customer’s library experience, the execution of the idea is doomed from the start!

Innovation requires mitigating risk. If any of the legs are weak or out of balance, the resulting wobble will put the project’s success in jeopardy. Innovation and risk management are inextricably intertwined.

Kitty Pope                                                                                               #37 October 2012

kpope@library.guelph.on.ca

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