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Reinvention Requires Risk. But Risk Doesn’t Have to be Risky


According to a recent survey conducted by Adobe, 60 percent of marketers expect their roles to change in the next year. But these same marketers are stuck—facing what vice president of strategy and business development in digital marketing at Adobe, John Mellor, called the “digital roadblock”—unable to make this transition. The survey found 30 percent of respondents felt they required more skills and 30 percent mentioned their organization’s inability to adapt to the current realities of marketing. The findings underscored the theme of the second day of Adobe Summit 2014: “Reinvention and Risk.”

The concepts “reinvention” and “risk” are tightly related. “Reinvention requires risk,” Mellor explained. And that is certainly true. It’s risky to attend one conference session, then return to your company and demand instant change. To help with this, Adobe has launched their new Digital Marketing Maturity Assessment. The assessment measures an organization’s maturity in terms of people, process, and produce. These “three P’s,” Mellor said, “either drive our organizations or create drag. They drive us, or they drive us nuts.”

“How do we call out the gaps,” Mellor continued, “so we can pull them back into alignment?” It’s risky and costly to make swift people, process, and product decisions. We can’t expect some magical dream of reinvention to become a reality. We want to evolve and reinvent the industry, but expecting an immediate change is both unrealistic and potentially devastating.

Embracing risk and taking risky actions are not the same. It’s possible to calculate risk. In this case, the key is to introduce the concept of culture. As an industry, we must first focus on identifying the gaps within our company’s culture. If we accomplish this, the “three P’s” will fall into place.

Take, for example, the idea of reinventing people within your organization. Say you identify a gap in your team’s skills and you make moves to address the deficiency quickly. You can invest a lot of time and money in structured training courses or hire new experts who already possess those skills. But what if those newly trained people still work in an environment that doesn’t support the desired change? What if the organization’s culture isn’t aligned in its mission? Making changes—whether to people, process, or product—may be necessary, but only after culture is addressed.

When asked about risk, Robert Redford replied, “Not taking a risk, is a risk.” In a fast moving—and ever-changing—industry, this couldn’t be more true. But let’s make sure our reinvention embraces smart, calculated risk—not needless, reckless riskiness.