Risk: The Only Sensible Option

Some thoughts about risk inspired by a recent sell-out talk Rog How delivered at Glug, Bristol.

By Rog HowPosted in Ideas

I was recently asked to speak at a Glug Event in Bristol. It was about risk. It got me thinking in how we can harness it to our advantage in our agency.

First of all, I had to ask myself the question: what is risk? Is it putting oneself in danger, going ‘all in’, or pushing yourself to some sort of limit? Or is it just a figment of our imagination?

When I broke it down I came to the conclusion that all risk is… just doing stuff! Doing stuff that we might not have done before, so there is some element of unknown. Everything we do carries some level of risk, but we only perceive it as a risk if we are unsure of the outcome.

Then I started thinking about why risk is held on a pedestal for creatives, or media agencies. Why is it so revered and sought after? Well, creatives are always doing stuff, and making things that have never been done before, so these things by our definition above are risky. So the creatives or agencies who are doing things that have never been done before are seen as good creatives. That then leads us to the question… as a creative or an agency how do we do things that have never been done before?

The way we look at it in our studio, os that we try to push ourselves to think differently by eliminating the notion of risk. So we feel unshackled by the human instinct toward risk aversion. We do this is in three ways:

1. Know the Unknown

We gather as much information as we can to form a more complete picture of the creative problem or task brought to us. We learn in detail about the client and their customers in detail and find out what makes them tick. The more you know, the less the risk, or perceived risk.

2. Trust your Client

We bring clients in early to creative sessions and along all stages of our process. Having the client part of the team means that they are invested in the idea and with us rather than on the other side of the desk. This means clients rarely reject creative we deliver. There’s very low risk that they will not like an idea they have been part of. As a result we never fear client rejection.

3. Build a Framework

We have a methodical approach to the way we work. Some might say that kills creative ideas, but our framework is not limiting. Rather it seeks to establish exactly what reaction we are striving to achieve, so we can concentrate on thinking up how we can do that in the most creative way possible. Sometimes barriers or limitations can free the mind by giving it some guidance rather than a wide open brief. The mind is like a racing car that can go fast on a race track, but open up the world and it’ll be limited by traffic jams and obstacles, and on top of that, not know where its going!

These methods work for us and our agency, but are not necessarily the only way to deal with risk. We are all different and perceive risk in different way, but my point is that you can eliminate risk or your perception of risk with the right method. 

And, if you do so effectively, it becomes riskier not to do something than to do it. So if a fear of risk or the unknown is holding you back, find the method or framework that works for you and go do stuff, make things and step into the unknown (with a torch and a survival kit!)

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