The Low-Risk Practice

Design is inherently risky, because it is a problem-solving business, and the full conditions of the problem are frequently not evident until the designer is well into the solution process.

Some recent legislation, for example laws in some Australian states make the designer responsible for site safety during construction and for the life-cycle of the project make design more risky than ever.

Nevertheless, every design business can take definitive steps toward becoming a “Low-Risk” practice – largely by developing a keen appreciation of risk issues and consistently following design processes that reduce the severity of risks if they occur, and even limiting the probability of occurrence.

This means that a constellation of risks that would wreak real damage on unprepared practices would have no lasting impact on well-prepared practices.

The Teflon™ metaphor is appropriate: Do what you need to do in order that risk will not “stick to” your business. To do this, you need:

  • Risk awareness, at all levels of the practice;
  • Risk assessment, including a clear “go – no-go” decisions process;
  • Consistent application of quality management methodologies; and
  • The right tools (see sidebar)

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