This has certainly been a trying time for all of us, both professionally and personally. Surviving this level of economic shut down has proven to be difficult for the largest down to the smallest businesses. What can a business do to make it through? Many have seen the reports of layoffs, closings, and furloughs, and many more have actually experienced it. Is closing down the only answer, or is there another route to take?
What seemingly appears to be overlooked is the concept of reinvention. Redefining a business is not easy, and requires resources that are in short supply, but it could very well be the decision that saves your business. Making sure your doors are open when this quarantine ends is not only crucial to the CEO, but to every member of the workforce.
How does this happen? When does this happen? There are lots of questions, and we don’t have all the answers. What do we have is our own experience of how we are doing it. Maybe something in our own story will spark ideas for others, maybe not. We are willing to share, not to declare “This is the way,” but rather to possibly inspire another business to rethink their vision and hopefully survive when so much is unknown.
When the Shelter in Place order was issued in our state by our governor, most of us were already working from home. We are fortunate in that all of us can do our jobs from a laptop and internet access, and we’re already well-versed in Microsoft Teams since we’re a Microsoft partner – so that initial transition was relatively easy for us to impose.
It soon became clear that this would not be short lived, and very soon after, many of our nationwide and international clients were being hit hard. Facilities were shutting down, employees were being furloughed and revenue was slowing to a stop. This had a very fast trickle-down effect to us, and it became clear that this would require more than just a shift in physical location.
Our leadership team had some in-depth and realistic conversations about what our next step would and should to be. It takes a distinct and open mindset to sit together and say, “This is who we have been, but that needs some adjusting.” It takes cooperation, collaboration, and an understanding that creativity and out of the box thinking were never more important. It takes bringing your people into the fold and saying, “we will listen to any idea right now.” There had to be organization, however, some level of structure and spelled out guidelines.
Here is How We Did This
We were divided into small “innovation teams” and given 3 days to brainstorm, plan, and present ideas to the rest of the company on a set day and time. It was called “Innovation Sprints” and it was designed to
- gather us
- allow time to collaborate and plan
- give opportunity to share in a fast and formidable way.
All departments were expected to participate, all employees given a voice to offer ideas. Teams were given the structure of the 5 W’s – why, what, who, when, and where. There were a few exceptions: if an associate was currently working on an existing and live account, as in there was a paying customer that was in need, that person was expected to focus there and join in when possible. Otherwise the small teams had their criteria and were set to go. Using our gathered talent, we set off to come up with new ideas.
New ideas were explored and the idea that we, as a company had something else to offer, became clear. It took some flexibility and patience, and by the time the first “show and tell” time arrived each team had created not only a presentation, but some really great ideas. Development of a few of these ideas became imminent.
Afterwards, it was determined we would indeed do this again the following week because it had been successful. We reflected and made some adjustments. A few operational issues like time limits were needed for presentations, clarity on participation was reiterated and teams would be shuffled around to find the best dynamics between people.
We are now in the middle of our second round of “Innovation Sprints”. There’s no telling what new idea will come out of this one, but everyone is contributing and together we are reinventing who we are and what we can offer to others.
An open and trusting mindset, a willingness to listen, and an ability to speak up, are all essential to making this concept a success. Diminishing ideas will lead to a lack of motivation and people shutting down creativity. Our CEO listened and complimented each and every idea. After that, he then reached out to the individual teams with the ideas that really caught his attention and from there those ideas were explored and some even developed further.
It is not easy to reinvent in a time like this, but it could be the difference between surviving and slowly dying out. Adaptation is the key feature in the natural world, and maybe be the best option for your company in this current business world.
At CuroGens we are here and available to help you figure out your next step. Click here to find out more about what we can do to help your business adapt.