Why Crises Call for Innovation, Not Hibernation

How can you apply innovation intelligently in a time of crisis to make significant savings and identify new opportunities for growth? This paper explores the challenges to successful innovation, how these can be compounded at times of disruption, and the best practices to overcome them.


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A 5 Step Guide to Innovate Successfully During Crisis

We have gathered best learnings from 300+ enterprise C-suite executives, industry leaders, and from our client work, and compressed them into five lessons valuable to any CEO looking to build resilience during the current crisis.

1. Navigate uncertainty in fast-evolving markets to map the future of business

Business transformation and innovation requires a strategic approach, that systematically helps to identify and prioritise new opportunity spaces in a world of uncertainty. A company needs to develop a clear innovation thesis: where to invest and where not to invest, with a clear set of priorities across the short and long term horizon. Such a strategy should be data-driven and based on signals in the market, combined with an evaluation of internal capabilities and assets available.

2. Fortune Favours the Bold

Times of change give rise to the most amazing creations. The Second World War saw the invention of the digital computer and rocket technology. When the world as we know it changes, consumers’ needs alter, and market opportunities are created. Embracing a ‘business as usual’ mentality just doesn’t make sense. It’s crucial to have the bravery to double down on innovation and act confidently.

3. Fail fast and thrive

Every organisation has three crucial resources: Time, Money, Energy. These are in demand during days of strong growth, and even more so when growth slows and focus switches from investment to cuts. For innovation initiatives to thrive in this environment, we need to ensure there are relevant time-boxed, stage-gated criteria so that commercially viable ideas can be accelerated quickly, and non-viable ideas killed faster. This helps maximise these three critical resources to help move the needle.

4. A Flexible Future

Culture is about how you incentivize and reward. A culture is a reflection of the values of the leadership. It cannot be manufactured. If leadership does not want to change or transform the organisation, the staff certainly won’t. GenZ employees who have grown up in an Internet age are much more flexible – the culture needs to support their intellectual wanderlust.

5. Keep calm and... don’t carry on as usual

The biggest challenge with enabling business transformation is balancing business-as-usual (BAU). BAU is measured on KPIs and short-term financial targets – an MD of a business unit is not incentivized to spend budget on a team where he/she cannot see the outputs. Squaring this requires a fundamental shift in the way organizations are designed. A potential solution is to start at the top – where the C-suite looks after the core business and the transformation unit is governed separately.

What our contributors say

"If you are not investing in disruption you will die. Consumers are served by high-quality products at low prices everywhere. Their needs and expectations will move on, technology will evolve, and it will all outpace your business model, unless you are obsessed with investing for the long term to meet future customer needs."
— Stephen Rapoport,
Serial Entrepreneur, Ex-Unilever VP Disruptive Innovation
“A crisis always makes people want to do things for the better. What we’ve seen is that we have very quickly stepped up to the plate and started working on new projects. We have managed to plug things in the market where it was needed, cutting red tape and setting up collaborations in record time. If you have ideas, now is the time to execute them - go for it.”
— Csilla Kohalmi Monfils,
Innovation Director, ENGIE Fab

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