How Pro Innovators Manage Risk

Organizations like Pixar, Tesla, and Novartis are constantly taking innovation risks, but their leaders have found ways to tolerate and manage that risk better than the competition. When you look closer at these companies, you’ll see a few common methods to their creative madness.

For instance, innovative companies aren’t afraid to hire risk-takers. Automaker Tesla actually looks for candidates who have a reputation for upsetting the status quo. Similarly, when Pixar Animation Studios staffed The Incredibles, director Brad Bird sought out animators who were known as Black Sheep. He knew that rule breakers would bring a fresh perspective to the project—and Pixar was rewarded when the film took home a pair of Oscars in 2005. Borrowing Pixar and Tesla’s approach to hiring can help increase your company’s risk tolerance.

Innovative companies also leverage technology to improve their innovation process. Pharmaceutical giant Novartis uses super-computers in 70 countries to track the progress of its 500-plus clinical trials. If a super-computer records a change in risk level at one of those drug trials, the humans at Novartis can make decisions in real-time about funding and timelines. In which area of your own business can you lean on technology to lower or offset your innovation risk?


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