Risks – If it doesn’t work, we’ll always say it should have

When it comes to taking risks in the development process, the title saying is something that gets said around the shop quite often. From the very first machine we ever built to current one-off products, we at Raytech have taken more of a risk-seeking as opposed to a risk-aversive standpoint.

Risk – No, not the board game

The board game "Risk"
A version of the board game “Risk” – Image courtesy of Wikipedia user Edaelon. Original available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Risk_2210_game_board_01.jpg

When we talk about risk in terms of creating something, what we mean is the chance that the thing being created won’t be accepted. It’s not that it’s a bad creation. It may be the greatest thing since sliced bread. But, there’s a chance, a risk, that people won’t see it for the great creation it is. I was reminded of this concept when listening to a podcast about marketing where Seth Godin was featured. He has a new book titled, “The Icarus Deception” in which he discusses the idea of taking risks and creating things which help you form a connection with others.

Creating connections with measuring tables

As I explain in our company history, the very first table we built, even before we started the company, was something that had never been done before. There was a significant chance that it wouldn’t work as expected. In fact, the first machine didn’t work, at least not to the level that the customer expected. We went out on a limb, took a chance, and in that particular case, failed. However, that wasn’t the end of the process. After a conversation with the client, and some hard work, we eventually made a machine that suited their needs. Today, more than twenty years after that first machine was built, this client has dozens of our machines. They use them on a daily basis. And, as we have improved the design of the machines, the client has upgraded some older machines to keep up. By taking a risk and deciding to build something new, we created a relationship that has lasted over two decades, and eventually spawned a company.

Other creative firsts

Another example of this risk-taking came when we built a machine for a large aerospace company. The parts they wanted to measure were longer than anything we’d ever done before, and because there were potential thermal issues, we had to adapt some unorthodox technology to make sure the effects of temperature were compensated for. Again, our first attempt didn’t completely fulfill the needs of the client, but through a collaborative process, we were able to make revisions and produce a machine that filled their needs. By not being afraid to venture outside our comfort zones, we were able to foster relationships with companies much larger than we are.

We’ve also built custom fixturing machines for bicycle and appliance manufacturers. They may not have all the bells and whistles involved in our standard machines, but by being willing to do something out of the ordinary, we’ve earned the trust of these companies and have been able to sell more machines to them than just the initial ones.

Tell me what you think about risks. Leave a comment below. Tell me a story about how you’ve gone out on a limb and formed a long-term connection with someone because of it.