Why designers are smart risk-takers


Malcolm Gladwell made it clear: expertise comes from 10,000 hours of practice. There’s no short cut. So those who spend the most time taking risks will be the most adept at it.

The first people who come to mind are wealthy financial investors. Their success depends on taking regular, informed risks—the bigger the better. We could continue listing smart risk takers—VCs, startup founders, fire fighters, pro coaches—but most lists would need to be very long before adding “designers.” We think this is a big oversight.

Designers take risks daily. They have to because to be creative means to try something new. To try something new means to take a risk. Designers take risks so routinely that it ceases to be noticeable to them. They don’t break out in a sweat with each new notion. 

How do they get smart at creative risk-taking? The market response helps. If their risk is not valued it doesn’t get developed. The critique process helps. Good designers expect, and welcome, specific feedback on their work. Combined, these forces help designers evolve their skills and develop their creative confidence.

So the next time you need some smart risk-takers on your team, don’t leave out these experts.