Innovating in the midst of the pandemic
The unexpected arrival and spread of COVID 19 has caused massive and global changes, strongly impacting into the business world. Every company, in addition to managing the sanitary emergency by prioritizing health and employee’s support-, has had to respond generally in a reactive and compulsive way, trying to ensure business survival in a context where life is at risk. Even when we were going through the complexity of global transformation by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the impact of exponential technologies, no one was prepared for this tsunami. This pandemic became the catalyst for change, forcing us to dive into the unknown, to modify overnight our daily routines, habitual ways of working, producing, relating and living; not without going through a wide spectrum of emotions to manage like fear, anxiety, anguish, disorientation just to mention some. Today, after the initial shock, companies are going through their quarantines with protocols in
place and a greater degree of awareness regarding the phenomenon and its consequences, identifying the depth and characteristics of this change that places us in a context more VUCA than ever, challenging everyone to take firm steps amid uncertainty and instability. While the imperative is to implement an immediate action plan to keep the ship afloat; the background is the radical change of scenery and the consequent interpellation of our ways of thinking and acting, of our leadership and management models, of our competencies to navigate the storm.
Therefore, can we continue doing the same as always? Not anymore. Consciously or unconsciously organizations in general are innovating (except some still in pause mode) by making different decisions than usual, exploring new alternatives, taking risks, making their structures more flexible, questioning their status quo, implementing new solutions such as remote work/home office and different ways of communication, interaction and production assisted by technology, which in turn implies inevitable changes in processes, products, services, value proposition, customer experience or business model, among others. We are innovating in the midst of the pandemic. We are thinking different to be able to do different, we are transforming new ideas into value. Some companies are facing an intuitive, spontaneous and somehow forced innovation. Others
- Those who are already managing it – are facing the possibility of structuring and enhancing it, identifying opportunities in the crisis and turning them into value, achieving more adaptability, agility, creative synergy, better results and a significant collective learning. Innovation remains the only way to give answers to this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. With a common purpose, a clear strategy, and a collective commitment to manage change, deepening incremental innovation will help sustain the core, and being courageous in the meantime to experiment on the unknown, will help visualize future growth. In this sense, it is key that we implement constant vigilance of the environment, especially observing people, users and consumers who are changing their habits, nowadays accentuated by the effects of the coronavirus and the adoption of new ways to communicate, work and consume; new trends that if we do not take into account, we will run the risk of producing goods and services for a non-existent customer.
Today, people’s experience is the strategy, and innovation must leverage that strategy. In this context, the human-centric approach acquires great relevance. At a time when we are asked for social distance, we must understand that it does not mean human distance. Although the channels are and will be primarily digital, our interlocutors are still human, so empathy, solidarity, collaboration, curiosity, creativity, shared knowledge and networking will be essential cultural skills to manage our new organizational and social reality towards our “new normal”.
By Andrea Novara – Manager of Innovis, Evoltis Group. Argentina
Master in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
(OBS School – University of Barcelona) – Business Ontological Coach (ECORE-Newfield)