Most businesses have been deliberating about reinvention and innovation for well over a decade. Some brave souls have sought to deliberately break down and reinvent their businesses from within. Some have applied a solution from one sector to solving an unrecognised need in another, and created massively disruptive new business models. Others have been moving gradually yet grudgingly toward incremental innovation on the back of continuous improvement, knowing that movement is necessary yet clinging to the tried and still-successful recipes as long as possible. Clayton Christensen talks about the innovator’s dilemma, where short-term payoff is more immediate – and thus consistently more tempting – than investment in innovation.
And of course there are the many – particularly those operating without the luxury of good profit margins, time and other resources – who’ve just kept doing what they’ve always done, perhaps just trying a little harder each year.
The crises ushered in by COVID-19 are immediate and long term, and I think we all acknowledge that we’re facing uncharted territory. It’s terrifying for economies, businesses and individuals alike. But the nugget of good news in this is that we are all in this together now. Everyone is going to need to face and take risks to survive, and learn to be innovative and agile.
Nuggets of gold are presented to us in times of crisis. It's up to us to choose how to view the challenge, and how we respond
There are more gold nuggets though, beyond the ‘touchy feely’ stuff that has most executives rolling their eyes. Read on, but before I go there, I remind you of an interesting fact: the body’s physiological response to the feeling of fear is identical to that of excitement. These are the only two emotions that have identical responses, but appear different depending on the perspective we choose to take! It echoes the two meanings of the Chinese word for chaos. Perhaps now’s the time to recognise that we have the choice as to how best to respond.
Business consultant, coach and colleague, Martin Collinson, posted a very pertinent question on LinkedIn two days ago, which had me thinking this morning. He posited that organisations now need to take measures at three levels:
· Emergency response and crisis management
· Strategizing for the new normal
He’s right. The challenge, however, is that they need to take place in a somewhat overlapping process – crisis management must blend into stabilising activities, and stabilisation must blend into and prepare the groundwork for new strategies. Not only that, but that many of the resources required for each of these processes are required for all three, yet need to be utilised or deployed differently.
More to come on that in future posts, but in working through the mechanics and dynamics of how this can happen, it brings to my attention the face that in the breakdowns we face, lie all the ingredients for successful reinvention, provided we’re willing and able to tap into the active and latent talent that likely exists in almost all organisations. These are the golden nuggets, and I urge you to begin acting now to take advantage of this truly unique moment in time:
Crisis is a great leveller. We all get to define 'what next'.
Time for the real leaders to step into the spotlight. Leaders who have vision, leaders who can integrate and facilitate activities to effectively drive toward the vision, and leaders who have the skills, insights or capabilities to bring direction and initiative to the teams who will make this happen.
And time for every member of every team to take ownership of co-designing, creating and giving life to the new and more human offerings we now have the opportunity to offer each other. Survival is no longer someone else’s responsibility.
Here’s to a brave new world.
Originally published on LinkedIn on April 1st, 2020
I have interest in a broad range of subjects relating to business and life.