I recently read a very interesting article in the Nussbaum on Design blog today about the different approach to risk from business executives compared to designers. Bruce Nussbaum is quoting Diego Rodriguez and Ryan Jacoby from Rotman magazine who wrote an original article named Embracing risk to grow and innovate.

Risk is an interesting topic and the different way business people and designers is dealing with it is worth a thought:

“Risk, to business people, is something to be avoided. It’s an assessment of the downside of taking an action. It’s bad. In B-School, you are taught to break down a problem (everything is a “problem”) into its parts, and solve them. Wrestle them to the ground.

Risk to a designer, is “a measure of the upside” of taking an action. It’s an opportunity. It’s good. In D-School, you see risks as options to be embraced, pondered, analyzed, and–above all–chosen. You like risk because it gives you options you can choose from.”

Why is it like this? I think because when you start a design process it is out of a white paper. Everything is possible, both in a positive and negative way. But if you have made your homework well, a design process includes a couple of steps that actually reduce the original risk. They can differ depending on person involved but definition of problem/solution, ethnography, a serious brief, prototyping/adjustments and communication (preferably the product is telling a story itself) are important parts.

Bruce Nussbaum says that the CEOs has a lot to learn about design:

“It is far riskier to come up with a new technology in the labs, make it into a product and then throw it at consumers than it is to first start with your consumers to find out what they really need and want (the essence of design). “

One main reason why our world is crowded with bad design is the lack of knowledge (and interest) from business executives of how to create a solid design brief and run a efficient design process. Someone has to do some homework…

UPDATE: Jens Hilgenstock sent me this link which is some interesting reading on the subject.

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