As businesses and organisations adapt to adversity, one behaviour is associated with success. Instead of retreating and looking inwards in defense, they become bolder and more assertive about innovating.
Remember that massive companies such as Microsoft, General Electric, IBM, Disney, CNN, FedEx, Apple and many others around the world were created during recessions. I also hear of member-based organisations succeeding during downturns.
When threatened, a rush of adrenaline heightens our senses and the ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in. Fear presents an array of choices such as: innovate; hunker down until the storm passes; or perhaps cut your losses and fold-up the organisation altogether.
To put it another way, leadership choices are for a quick organisational death, a slow death or farming the fields of possibility: innovation.
Those that tip the balance towards innovation use the heightened awareness and urgency created by threats to deeply tune in to the current and emerging unmet needs of customers, members and other stakeholders.
Listening and watching takes on a whole new meaning.
Suddenly, rather than focusing on your organisational problems, the mindset shifts to how can your organisation’s products and services help others succeed. The implication is that if you help enough other people get what they want, success can follow for your organisation.
My experience in working with progressive organisations is that they balance innovation against defensive moves.
They filter out the clutter and distractions for a clear line of sight to those they serve. For example, the 24/7 news cycle is mostly negative and repetitive. Just check in once or twice a day to authoritative sources and ignore the ramblings and distractions on social media.
From sole operators to corporate-scale organisations, massive and enduring success can and is created during periods of adversity. However, the prospects are not so good for those that are primarily concerned with avoiding losses and minimising downside risks.
Now is the time to become bolder, to pursue clients, customers and members, and to offer new approaches.