I know that many businesses are still struggling to remain afloat. Many are just focused on cost cutting and liquidity injections and managing their cashflow on a day to day basis. This is all very important but someone within the business has also to be looking into the future.

Any crisis, besides dangers also brings with it opportunities. The word crisis is derived from Greek, which means the “time to decide” and hence every crisis presents a choice. This is particularly true today.

Of course, seeing the opportunities emerging from this crisis is not the same as being able to seize them. As expected investments in innovation is not surely on the radar of business leaders at this moment in time. It is very likely that business will return to innovation-related initiatives once the world has stabilised, the core business is secure, and the path forward is clearer. Business leaders are deprioritising innovation to concentrate on four things: shoring up their core business, pursuing known opportunity spaces, conserving cash and minimising risk, and waiting until “there is more clarity.”

Business leaders face an important choice around supporting innovation-led growth in the short term, one that may have lasting consequences for their companies’ ability to grow in the years to come. Playing it safe may be a short sighted decision right now. However, I strongly advise that just surviving and waiting is not enough and that certain urgent actions are needed:

  • Adapting the core to meet shifting customer needs
  • Identifying and quickly addressing new opportunity areas being created by the changing landscape
  • Re-evaluating the innovation initiatives and ensuring resources are allocated appropriately
  • Building the foundation for post-crisis growth in order to remain competitive in the recovery period

In essence business have to understand that they simply cannot operate as they have in the past. What made a company successful historically may no longer be possible now and in the future. Customers may struggle to pay. Channels may have radically shifted to accommodate new needs or work around new constraints. The assumptions that supported years of stable, predictable growth may no longer be valid.

Competitive advantages are shifting dynamically as business models adapt to new market realities and the core capabilities that made an organisation distinctive may suddenly be less differentiating. While the rise of digital has been mounting similar pressures for more than a decade, the current crisis has significantly exacerbated and accelerated its disruptive force.

This means that changes to sales models, the need for new offerings and road to market, rapid changes in consumer behaviour and influx of new competitors needing to find new opportunities elsewhere are all changing the market landscape across various industries.

History has always shown that every crisis has a significant financial and human toll, stranding assets and human capital and causing significant social and economic dislocation. However, many of these dynamics are ingredients for disruption from which new business models emerge.

So how should companies that believe in the innovation continue to pursue it even today? I must admit that I am personally infatuated by the eight essentials of innovation – Aspire, Choose, Discover, Evolve, Accelerate, Scale, Extend and Mobilise.

At this moment in time, prioritising Discover, Evolve, and Choose is probably a wise move as these three will guide an organisation in reorienting its focus, as needed.

I will have shortly another blogpost that focuses on the essentials of Innovation. But the main question remains. As a business leader do you think that innovation should be scraped for the time being? Hopefully not!

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