What is the first thing that happens when a client is shutdown due to the coronavirus? Cut all unnecessary spending. Certainly, I agree with this approach in most situations. If you cannot pay for your employees, you shouldn’t pay for unnecessary expenses! However, if the situation isn’t dire, it might just be an opportunity to refocus on innovation and technology.
There are well-regarded statistics about the Depression and the Great Recession that those companies that invested while everyone else cut back were significantly more successful following the recession. Of course, it depends on whether you are investing in what will be needed as the lockdown ends or if you just continue with your prior plans because they were well-thought out previously. All bets are off! You must re-review your strategies, business plans and associated investments with the ‘new world’ in mind. Ask your executive team and key partners questions:
- What will have changed as we emerge from lockdown?
- What opportunities will it present for your customers?
- What new roadblocks will exist for your customers?
- Is there an opportunity for new customers?
- Do you have an opportunity to expand to new markets?
- What products and services will be needed?
- Can you get ahead of the competition so you’ll be out of the gate at 200 mph instead of crawling at a turtle’s pace?
- Will you need to re-tool?
- What skills will you need?
- What technology will you need?
Challenging times can create opportunity with innovation and creativity. Innovation will fast-track growth and profits. When has there been a better time to innovate? Although we started our innovation series a while back and have always been involved with encouraging innovation (such as the Manufacturers Innovation Awards), we are going to start adding content to encourage clients to focus on innovation since we think this is a critical time to ramp up your focus on innovation.
Innovation doesn’t have to involve technology as it could simply involve repurposing, repackaging, or repositioning. In fact, there is very little that is truly ‘new’. How often does a client invent something new like the sticky note? Certainly we hope a new vaccine will be developed rapidly, but many industries will simply come up with new ways of doing things and that type of innovation will fast-track growth and profits. The only precursor is whether you have an innovative culture. Now that is something we can control, and it doesn’t have to require capital or cash.
Why not put your top talent on an innovation project while under lockdown/ social distancing? There is plenty that can be accomplished via Zoom, and you might just be thrilled with the results. From all accounts, it appears as though the recession will be short-lived and in a V shape with a rapid recovery. Will you be ready to take advantage of the opportunities?