Classic finance theory states that the higher risk you're willing to take, the higher will be the potential return. And although the world of communications doesn't use advanced equations or formulas to calculate risks, the same relationship between creative risk and potential award holds (both in terms of efficiency and profits for the client and in terms of creative awards for the agency).
I believe that this perspective is lacking in most agencies and for most clients, because advertising is often seen as an expense that should be risk-free rather than an investment with a variable return. As a result, clients often choose the safest solution. Agencies that try to convince a client that the more creative solution is the way to go are perceived as pushy and reckless.
There are of course several ways of mitigating risk (i.e. shifting the curve downwards) through a strong agency brand, research data, planning, experience and other informed choices, but the risk-reward principle in the creative industry remains. Why? Because the creative risk lies in innovation and finding new ways of connecting with people. New ways are by definition unproven and no guarantees for success can be given without lying.
So if we want to stretch higher along the risk curve, we have to ask ourselves several questions: how much risk are we willing to take? What type of clients are we working with and can we expect them to take creative risks? What type of people does the agency hire and why do clients hire us in the first place? Or maybe advertising is just a world of chaos and there's no way of determining anything? If that's the case planning is surely doomed.