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Alumna Sandy Guberti-Ng tackles the risks that come with innovation at IDEO.org

“Innovation is inherently risky.” As part of IDEO.org’s Amplify Program, alumna Sandy Guberti-Ng published an article on Medium on “Designing for Risk in Innovation.” The piece explores how organizations navigate uncertainty as they test innovative, and thus risky, ideas and models, and how understanding market and operational risks can make or break an organization’s success.

Along with a partner, Sandy worked to review five years’ worth of data from over thirty Amplify grantees in order to pinpoint factors critical to an innovating organization’s success. Though they originally hypothesized that organizations working to create more radical change would be less successful than those working to create incremental change, Sandy and her partner found that as long as organizations were willing to invest in reducing market and operational risks, they could generate success.

“The original framework that I modified was introduced to me through [DSI]… as I was doing the analysis, I really felt that the social design experience I gained from client projects and the diversity of work I was exposed to [at DSI] really prepared me to consider impact and success across projects that touch different contexts, problems, and solutions.” – Sandy Guberti-Ng

One case study presented in the article was Build Change, an organization working in the Philippines to enhance climate resilience for low-income residents there. Build Change aimed to incentivize people to retrofit their homes before a natural disaster struck, thus increasing individual and community resilience. Build Change experimented with different financing products before rolling out their solution: issuing real loans for home upgrades and assessing whether these loans were desirable to homeowners by tracking loan repayment. By the end of their prototype, nearly all lenders had repair their loans, signifying desire, need, and prototypic success. Today, the number of loans taken by homeowners to retrofit their houses is increasing, and Build Change is looking to scale this model further.

Read more here.

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