Our world seemed to be humming along nicely before the pandemic. Or was it?
Almost every restaurant in NYC was filled with people every night of the week. The travel industry was bustling; airports were packed with people and flights were booked consistently. Online businesses were exploding. But, were things really that great?
In a recent interview with Danny Meyer, owner of the Union Square Restaurant Group, he commented on challenges within the hospitality industry pre-COVID; high rents, challenges with employee pay and tipping, and barely enough cash-flow to cover costs for 1-2 months.
The pandemic has pushed many industries to the edge. But, he is right. Many companies and industries were already on the edge. The new buzz word over the past several years has been “disruption”.
I had the opportunity to speak with the head of Research & Development for a technology company a few years ago. The company was on the forefront of technology and innovation in their industry. Yet, it was something very simple that he said to me that has stayed with me. He said, “You can’t stop innovation.” Wow, so simple but so powerful. He proceeded to say that if his company does not come up with the newest technology, somebody else would.
Innovation is critical if organizations are going to come out ahead on the other side of this crisis.
Many industries had already been disrupted (the hotel industry with Airbnb, the taxi industry with Uber and Lyft, etc., animal agriculture with plant-based foods). This caused some companies to panic, and take on a defensive approach to addressing the disruption. Instead, companies should be on the offensive, always looking to innovate in order to evolve and compete in a constantly changing marketplace.
No matter what we do, innovation is going to happen. Whether you like it or not is another thing. So, what does that mean for you?
Some organizations have always been on the forefront of innovation. But, others will have to re-invent themselves or, push themselves to accept the changes they need to make and get moving! This isn’t the first time in our history that crisis has led to disruption and innovation. In the 4-part docuseries (“The Men Who Built America”, many crisis’ led to more innovative products, services and efficiencies. (I am waiting for “The Women Who Built America” but that’s another blog!). It was not easy and there were a lot of challenges and sacrifices that had to be made. But, those innovations would have happened eventually.
What Organizations Can Do:
- Talk to your customers; Those customer surveys are more important now than ever. Ask them what they need from you.
- What can you give them that they do not have?
- What could you do to help make their organizations and their customers stand out?
- How else can you support them? Whether related to the product or service you provide to them or not, you may be able to help them in ways you had not thought of.
- IDEATE! This is so important and too many companies do NOT do this. Ideation sessions can identify products or services that you hadn’t thought of. It can also help prioritize the roll-out of new products and services. Be sure to include employees from diverse backgrounds and experiences; you never know who will come up with that earth-shattering idea.
- You’ve got data, use it! Chances are your organization has data; customer data, end-user data, and other data based on your specific industry. Analyze it! Use it to make decisions. BLEND360 is working with a lot of organizations, analyzing data, and creating and executing on marketing strategies and new product launches, all driven by data.
- Use top talent to execution your vision. Given the unfortunate impact on our economy, there are many subject matter experts out of work and ready to help you execute. Tap into them! Here again, BLEND360 provides subject matter experts to support our client’s evolution.
- Encourage a culture of innovation; Encourage your employees to submit new ideas, new products and services or enhancements to the products and services you currently have. And, be open to those ideas! Your employees who are on the front line every day know exactly what will make the company operate more efficiently and what could benefit your customers.
- Move swiftly! Speed to market is critical now. Companies cannot rest on their laurels anymore. They need to innovate and move new products and services to the marketplace quickly. As I mentioned earlier, someone else has already thought of your new product/service and If you don’t move on it, your competitors will.
- Be driven by purpose and serving others. If you can’t find purpose in your product or service, what is the point? One of the things that excites me to get up every morning is that fact that we are helping our clients build better businesses but also helping to put great talent to work for them.
Not only should companies be focusing on innovation but so should their employees. And, we should all be thinking about it for our professional careers but also for personal evolution.
- Keep an innovation diary; write down your ideas, whether they be for professional or personal evolution. If your company has an innovation web portal or hub, be sure to submit your ideas. Create a personal innovation “hub”!
- Know your “innovation” environment; where do you come up with your best ideas? I know for myself when I am outdoors, in nature, I come up with crazy cool ideas. When my husband and I must make an important decision, we both know a walk in the country is the answer; I will surely come up with something.
- Surround yourself with people who are passionate about solving the same problems you are or supporting the same causes. Look for them. Each of you will bring a different perspective based on your own experiences. You never know who may be interested in that crazy cool idea you have!
- Be driven by purpose and serving others. – this stands true across the board. Think about how or what is needed to serve others and what has meaning to you.
It’s difficult to say what our world will look like a few years from now. Even 6 months from now. Even next month. And it can be unsettling. But, you can’t stop innovation. It’s going to happen whether you want it to or not, so prepare for it. Seek it out. Be a part of that innovation.