For many businesses, the pandemic accelerated the pace of change, and amid so many challenges and so much uncertainty, they are learning that adapting and evolving aren’t as difficult as they may have thought. Food services companies have repurposed themselves away from supplying food to restaurants to providing home delivery to consumers. Auto manufacturers, facing much lower demand, have switched assembly lines from cars to ventilators. Fashion designers and local tailors rapidly pivoted to producing masks for frontline health care workers and community members.
I’m seeing business leaders who are starting to say, “We’ve done the things that we never thought we could do.” This is innovation in action: the results take different forms, but the means by which you move decisively to achieve those results are enabled by people, processes and technologies that you have in place right now — or need to develop. Innovation may often be portrayed as a technological advancement, but it’s a capability that must be enabled.
Organizations need to maintain that confidence and momentum, because as the world begins to reopen and we return to a very different version of normal, customers’ needs are going to be different and the ways to address them will be different as well. Companies need to shift their focus to be more digitalized, so they provide the platforms that can support employees, and leaders must change the focus to the customer and their evolving needs to guide them through this process.
To meet the challenge, enable innovation and come back to better, focus on tactics to provide:
- Resiliency: how to deal with setbacks
- Flexibility: how to complete tasks on the fly
- Agility: how to do them quickly
We have developed an easy-to-use diagnostic tool that provides a methodical approach to crisis management, recovery and reinvention, addressing nine areas that not only drive business continuity now but also help reframe your organization’s future. Additionally, here are five behaviors worth pursuing now to reframe your organization’s future and transform to succeed.
1. Keep your head up, not just down
Now is the moment to address your customers’ changing needs and show your value in your ability to be flexible and agile — and it’s the moment where you risk falling further behind. Understandably, you and your people may have their heads down, focused on powering through immediate challenges. But it is times like these when you must keep your head up to see what’s on the horizon.
When considering innovation, the first thing for CEOs to think about is their people. Do you have time to plan for more than just tomorrow and focus on customers’ changing needs? And how do you as a leader personally listen more and get closer to customers? When how people live and how they shop, and the things that they buy, have dramatically changed, it isn’t enough to get through today’s challenges.
2. Identify where you really bring value
Do your products and services still reflect customer needs and values in this changed world, or do you need to revisit your product line? This crisis is an opportunity to revisit everything from your sales practices and customer engagement to your product line and messaging to ensure it aligns with your customers. Innovation is the cornerstone to these strategies, providing the mindset around agility and flexibility.
If your consumer research is more than 60 days old, it’s likely of little use. As our regularly updated EY Future Consumer Index shows us, 62% of global consumers tell us the way they live has changed significantly in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And they are expecting tremendous upheavals still to come: half believe the way they live will change even more over the long term.
Meanwhile, consumer attitudes about such topics as privacy and purpose have already pivoted strongly in new directions, with social good taking precedence. For instance, 28% of respondents say they will pay more attention to what they consume and what impact it has, and over half would share their personal data to help with disease prevention.