The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world. These times are as trying as they are uncertain, and nobody knows how we’re going to come out of this.
But if there’s one thing we know, it’s that we’ll get back up. We’ve survived world wars, famines, droughts, heatwaves, and so much more. This isn’t even our first pandemic either. It’s not even our second. The earliest recorded pandemic occurred in Athens, Greece in 430 BC during the Peloponnesian War and killed over two-thirds of the population of Athens. Another notable pandemic was the Spanish Flu, which struck during World War 1.
You’d think there’s no path for us to recover from something like that. But history would prove you wrong, because we’re here today, still standing, because even though there was no path, we made one of our own. We braved the Black Death, the Great Plague, the Polio epidemic, the Spanish Flu, the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic, the Ebola epidemic, the Zika epidemic, and we will brave COVID-19 just the same, as long as we keep moving forward and have hope and faith.
To make sure that we stay optimistic and see that light at the end of the tunnel, one of the important things we need to do is innovate. We’ve seen it in unprecedented ways this year – from entire companies shifting their manufacturing to produce sanitizers to people making masks out of old clothes and hair ties. Here are four effective ways to innovate in a post-COVID world:
1. LOOK AT WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS:
Rather than staying stuck in your old ways of thinking, use this time and these events as an opportunity to step back and see what the world needs and whether your product or business really fits into that.
For example, if you are working on a business that produces suitcases and trolley, you might want to reconsider that, because people really aren’t going to be doing much travelling anytime soon so luggage isn’t really going to be in demand. Instead, you can pivot your business to something else that is in a new vertical but not entirely different, such as containers for medical equipment.
Analyze current market and business trends to see what the world is in dire need of, and see how you can provide it.
We have to combine so many elements of safety and juggle them all to ensure that we’re always safe, such as masks, gloves, face shields, sanitizers, social distancing, and so on. Innovation involves making combinations that people may not have seen before.
Sometimes, these combinations can turn out badly, such as when Sony tried to combine a gaming console and media consumption device in the PS Vita, and instead failed massively at both. But most of the time, they tend to turn out well in surprising ways, such as when Samsung combined a note-taking device, a drawing pad, and a phablet into its smashingly successful Galaxy Note series.
Try to envision what existing or new products, technologies, or services you can combine in new and innovative ways. These can be existing ones or even new ones that you might bring into being.
The pandemic made us forget everything we thought we knew about the world, and made us see entirely new facets of life. It reminded us that a lot of things that we value so very dearly, such as watching regular sports games or going to movies or going to our favorite restaurants are really nothing but luxuries, and what really matters is the health and wellbeing of the people we care about. Everything else is secondary to that.
Similarly, try to forget everything you know about your company, and come at it from an entirely different way. Sometimes, you get so enveloped in the bubble of your company and an echo chamber of overlapping ideas that you forget what your customers must be seeing. Try to look at your website, your ads, or your social media accounts as a potential customer who doesn’t know a single thing about the company.
Approaching it from this fresh perspective will help you get valuable insight on what works and what doesn’t.
Take a step back and look at your company with new, fresh eyes. See what sticks out to you and what doesn’t. See what needs improving and what’s working well. Analyze every facet from this aspect, including your website, your ads, your social media accounts, and so on.
The world has turned on its head. Up is down and down is up. Things that were impossible mere months ago are the new normal now.
Opportunities that may have been unattainable are up for grabs now. This pandemic has affected all of us, but as people have put up physical barriers between them, the social barriers are coming down.
As companies may board up their physical stores, their digital avenues may be more open than ever before. Utilize this time to be proactive and reach out. This could be a chance to collaborate with the company or the mentor you’ve always dreamed of, and it’s here for the taking.
Ponder upon what kinds of new and unique collaborations might be possible during these times that might not have been before. Doors are open that weren’t before. In the midst of such chaos, companies that were once juggernauts may now be looking for an olive branch or an extended hand. Thoroughly investigate win-win collaboration opportunities with other companies and see what comes up.
In conclusion, I’ll leave you with this quote from American writer and management consultant Margaret J. Wheatley: “Innovation is fostered by information gathered from new connections; from insights gained by journeys into other disciplines or places; from active, collegial networks and fluid, open boundaries. Innovation arises from ongoing circles of exchange, where information is not just accumulated or stored, but created. Knowledge is generated anew from connections that weren’t there before.”
Use this time to step back, reset, make new connections, invite new collaborations, and take a long, hard look at what the world really needs right now and how you can provide it. Business is like a steep slope that you’re trying to maintain momentum on constantly – if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. And in these uncertain times, you can’t afford to move backward.