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Innovation During Covid-19

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

By Jillian Broaddus and Chuck Cusumano

It’s no secret that the coronavirus has impacted corporations, large and small, around the country. Unemployment reached its highest rate since the Depression era, small business revenue has decreased 20%, retail sales saw their largest month-to-month decline since the Census Bureau started tracking data, and the automotive industry is estimating that profits will fall by $100 billion year-over-year – and that’s got nothing on the restaurant industry!

However, the age of the pandemic has also created a unique opportunity for companies’ leaders and employees alike to re-evaluate their operations… and their opportunities!

After all, whether by choice or necessity, we’ve all had to change the way we do things. Kindergarteners are learning to Zoom and grandparents are learning to scan QR codes to view a restaurant menu. Elbow bumps are replacing handshakes and virtual breakout rooms are the new “watercooler chats.”

So, it should be no surprise that corporations have needed to adjust as well. However, while some companies have only pivoted to survive during the Covid-19 era, others have innovated to thrive during and beyond the Covid-19 era – and they’re doing some good in the process!

Consider GM and Dyson, who obtained rapid approval and overnight success as ventilator manufacturers. Anheuser-Busch also leveraged its capabilities to produce something the country was in dire need of – hand sanitizer – and provided more than 500,000 bottles across 20 states. Hanes retrofitted its factories to make medical masks, and paired with the US government to supply medical workers on the frontline. Lyft also expanded its services to provide delivery of critical medical supplies to the elderly and vulnerable, as well as delivery of meals to school children in need. When the Getty Museum became unable to welcome visitors into their doors, they got creative and turned the tables to visit people in their homes with the “Life Imitates Art” challenge; they asked people to recreate a work of art using only people and/or objects found around their homes, leading to viral results that were impressive, hilarious, and kept Getty top-of-mind for a post-quarantine visit! (Check out the images here!)

Other industries have seen major shifts as well, with the innovators rising to the top. For instance, food distributors nationwide began offering direct-to-consumer channels when their restaurant sales lagged. Sales departments have been able to assemble the “perfect team” with digital pitches. And the entertainment industry has ramped up their content development to fill our void and provide entertainment to our lockdown days!

Suffice it to say, businesses CAN gain long-term advantages through innovative mindsets and effective execution today. In fact, more than three-quarters of executives believe that the crisis will create significant new opportunities for growth. Are you one of them?

Consider this: the word “crisis” – when written in Chinese – is comprised of two symbols. The first means “danger.” The second means “opportunity.” Look for the opportunities available to you during this ongoing pandemic; you might be surprised what you find!

Here is our challenge to you, with one month left in the year: How can you be more innovative in 2021? Where are there opportunities to turn lemons into lemonade? If you need some inspiration, check out this blog on creativity!


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