Innovating through a crisis

They say never waste a good crisis…

…and, that if there is a better way to do something (think stale processes), find it now, when the fan is already covered in proverbial.  Humans are typically change resistant, but fierce disruption helps us levitate in a state of change acceptance, where we can transform limitations into advantages.  It’s amazing what you can create, quickly, when you must.

Many businesses have struggled along with their pre-Covid product plans; there is evidence everywhere of poorly timed and tone deaf marketing messages, my favourite recent example being: “Sign up and go in the draw to win 10,000 Air New Zealand Airpoints” (I love our national carrier but…?).  Carrying on as if the world hasn’t changed will hinder our recovery.

 

Constraint invokes creativity.

It’s widely celebrated in the world of architecture that beautiful design is born from constraint.  Imagine a featherlight building clinging to a sheer cliff - without the cliff, it would neither cling nor be featherlight.

Around the world, businesses became unviable overnight; from the aviation industry to the world of influencers.  No doubt it’s easier to pivot a yoga pose than a Dreamliner, but here are six considerations for post-crisis innovation:

  1. Change your environment.  Just because we’re out of lockdown in NZ doesn’t mean we should return to our usual environment 100% of the time.  What is your team doing to continue encouraging fresh perspective and breed ideas?
  2. Challenge your assumptions.  Consumers have new behaviours and needs we can cater for.  Beyond the obvious cash injection, trans-Tasman bubble or a damn good holiday, what do your clients want and need now that we’re through (fingers crossed) the crisis phase?  It may be a simple new check-in process - to show you care and can support them beyond your usual relationship.
  3. Empower your team to innovate.  Times are not ‘business as usual’.  Encourage your team to prioritise looking at new ways of doing things and new things to do.  Perhaps an hour a week (scheduled or it won’t happen!) to reach out to clients and gauge their mindset.
  4. Collaborate with others.  You don’t have to do it alone.  Could you leverage your resources by partnering with someone who can add to a new offering?  An example I stumbled across recently was an online events company (getting slammed with 600% growth) and a face-to-face events company (*crickets chirping*) collaborating to utilise existing human resourcing, upskill people and give the customers what they need, now.
  5. Communicate what’s coming.  One study claims that product adoption comes down to: 82% marketing and 18% how good a product is.  Don’t underestimate the importance of communicating the problems you’re solving with innovation.  Communicate hard and early and keep the messages coming.  Don’t be that firm who plans a webinar, sends one EDM, and then wonders why they didn't hit their registration targets.
  6. Shrink the process; progress over perfection.  You can perfect it later.  The ideals around ‘market ready’ solutions will be flexible for some time.  If you’re not slightly embarrassed by your first product release (be that a Business Recovery Planning session or client webinar) then it’s likely you should have launched sooner.

Of course, you should be discussing the above things with your clients to demonstrate what you’re doing to innovate.

 

Four ways to reinvent your business post-Covid, and what we’ve done at The Gap.

  1. Innovate.  Defined as 'the introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something'.  What new behaviours or needs exist for your ideal customer and how can you create a new product or service to meet these?
    Firstly, we blew up our development plans.
    Fresh page; what do our members need?  Business Continuity Planning for during the crisis and Business Recovery Planning to mitigate the crisis aftermath as we ride shock waves to eventually establish ‘Normal’.

  2. Re-engineer.  How can you change and improve the design of your current offering?  How can you produce it better, in a way that reflects your customers’ changing needs.
    Content and processes to market, sell and deliver Business Development services is our thing.
    With areas of Australia back in lockdown and rising case numbers beyond our borders, the webinar is not going anywhere.  We’ve repurposed seminars as webinars for our clients to tweak the way they deliver important educational support.

  3. Adapt.  How can you change the way you deliver your products or services in this new business environment?  For example, will adapting your opening hours, your sales process or your follow up support options better serve your clients and improve business outcomes?
    Never did we think our support would involve moderating member webinars.
    But hey, it’s helping us live into our purpose of helping accountants accelerate small business success.
    We’ve also made the 4.5 day working week official for our team. 
    Our crew need balance more than ever and they’ve demonstrated they can deliver results from home, on their terms.

  4. Widen your lane.  What can you add to your offering to really serve your clients in their time of need?
    From publishing personal budget templates (we said we would never) to outsourcing webinar presentation to a resilience guru, our lane has widened.

 

 

You can be the architect - without creating your own blueprint.

If you’re still reading, you’re likely a gap fit.  Outsource your product innovation to The Gap.  Utilise what we’ve spent years building to help your clients get more time, mind and financial freedom while you maximise the opportunities that present themselves at this time.

Innovation is a key part of any Business Recovery Plan.  Download our Guide to Business Recovery Planning resource to see how you can widen your lane in these times, while helping your clients develop more resilient businesses.

 

DOWNLOAD GUIDE TO BUSINESS RECOVERY PLANNING

 

“Innovation is born from the interaction between constraint and vision.” - Marissa Meyer.
About the author Natalie Eady

Systems Leadership Natalie Eady Goals Growth Business Recovery Planning