As Plato once philosophized, “necessity is the mother of all invention”. Meaning a need or problem encourages the creative efforts to meet that need or solve the problem. Given the current events surrounding COVID-19, I’m not sure who would argue. With the travel bans, social distancing and remote working we are about to unleash a tsunami of “creative efforts” to solve the problems that are currently reshaping our way of life. So, the question of the day is do you want to ride the wave or, have it crash over you?
Jumping on the wave will not be as hard as you think, and the companies that are going to be the most successful will be the ones that bring everyone along for the ride. Those that want to ride the wave will have the opportunity to redesign strategies and business models to fast-track innovative thinking in an effort to solve these problems. Successful companies will realize it takes a village, now more than ever, to get creative and solve problems. The importance of collaboration, ecosystem and possibly coopetition will be as critical to the upfront ideation efforts as it will be to the execution efforts in bringing great ideas to market.
Collaboration: build cross-functional teams that are measured on how well they solve problems together.
Ecosystem: bring together suppliers and broader stakeholders to design and test better strategies and possibilities.
Coopetition: be the catalyst for industry-wide discussions on how to reignite customer confidence.
As you jump on this wave you will be best served to reconnect with your core, your essence, your purpose. But this part you will need to do alone. Others can help coach you through the process but it is up to you to do the work and figure out what makes you authentic! The village concept will kick in as you work together and go deeper, to redefine collective aspirations. You will use those aspirations to collectively define “where do we play” and “how do we win”. We all know the world will drastically change in 2020, we just don’t know exactly how or what the change will look like. So, why not treat this as an opportunity to collaborate and design a better future? Together.
Before unleashing your creativity make sure you start by identifying the most important problem you are trying to solve. Most likely, there is more than one problem getting in between you and your aspirations. Remember not to overthink it, pick one and get going. Your goal will be to have everyone on the same page, aligned to a single problem statement. You can then reframe the problem in the form of a question to help open up the discussion to possibilities. Creativity will present itself in the form of the possibilities you will collaborate on to answer your question and therefore solve your problem.
Problem: there is currently a shortage of N95 masks for front-line health workers, thereby putting many lives at risk.
Question: “How might we kick-start a cottage-industry for making protectiveface coverings and alleviate the desire to wear medical-grade face protection in public?”
Caution, it will be very tempting to jump straight into brainstorming or ideation without actually figuring out which problem you are trying to solve. Without a clear focus on the problem you might start to lose people and momentum, making it easy for everyone to go right back to the familiarity of “doing nothing”. Remember as you ride this wave, “doing nothing” will always be your biggest obstacle and therefore become your biggest competition. The problems we are facing today and the foreseeable future means we can’t afford to do nothing. We all need to ride on!