COVID-19 Innovation Strategies For The New Normal

Discover innovation strategies to help your business adapt and succeed in a post-COVID world. Join Studio Zao’s innovation hack to fight uncertainty and thrive.

Did you know that the average lifespan of a large corporation is only eighteen years in ‘normal’ economic conditions? Now that the disruptions of COVID-19 have been thrown into the mix, today’s business must go above and beyond to stay afloat and discover unique growth opportunities.

While industries such as education, accommodation and food services are experiencing the biggest hit from COVID-19, some sectors are enjoying a surge in revenue. For example, the remote workplace transformation market is expected to grow to a staggering $33 billion by 2026, and the virtual healthcare market is experiencing 14.9% a staggering compound annual growth rate of 14.9%.

COVID-19 presents an imminent demand for all businesses to embrace change and adopt an innovative approach to meet the needs of today’s consumers. In a world where uncertainty is the new normal, the greatest risk is failing to safely adapt to the road ahead.

Join us as we explore how to develop an innovation strategy for a post-COVID world, why it’s important to identify new approaches, and what steps you can take to execute high-impact initiatives.

How To Lead Your Team Through Critical Times

We’ve identified three key stages that leaders must negotiate to help their organisation navigate change and implement innovative strategies:

  • Respond. The first step is to assess the situation and think about how you could do things differently in response to the new conditions. Whether it’s adopting virtual tools to accelerate labour-intensive processes, implementing quick-fix solutions to protect the safety of your employees or communicating a contingency plan across your team, your response to a crisis must be timely and pragmatic.
  • Adapt. Once you’ve responded to immediate threats, adaptation is key to implement defensive measures and protect your core business. Simultaneously, it’s also vital to roll-out offensive measures to help you identify whitespace opportunities that can leverage positive outcomes from a seemingly negative scenario. A whitespace opportunity refers to the discovery of an unmet and unarticulated need that provides a golden opportunity to innovate.
  • Thrive. Successful innovation during a crisis requires the ability to embed new operating approaches into your business model and scale propositions for your future customers. Think about how you will measure the success of your innovation strategies and paint a clear picture of what success looks like.

So, what innovation strategies can your business adopt in the coming months to respond and adapt to the ongoing pandemic?

Innovation Strategy #1: Future Scenarios

Future Scenarios or ‘Speculative Design Thinking’ refers to the way you perceive the likelihood of future outcomes. It involves preparing your business for a range of potential futures and making a series of ‘bets’ to help you succeed. Instead of allowing uncertainty to govern your decision-making, Speculative Design Thinking measures the possibility of potential outcomes to establish a level of predictability.

Future Scenarios Diagram

The above graphic demonstrates how we can project future possibilities with varying degrees of certainty. Future Scenarios teaches us that the core pillars of society like travel, leisure and daily routines tend to form the backbone of predictability and narrow our possibilities during ‘normal’ times.

However, in times of uncertainty, these core pillars are knocked to the ground — leaving businesses with an opportunity to reimagine what the future will look like and how they can implement novel innovation strategies. To embrace Speculative Design Thinking, it’s important to evaluate which pre-COVID innovation programmes are no longer relevant and to refocus your innovation efforts into more likely possibilities.

Now, more than ever is the time for your business to hypothesize about the future and find comfort in uncertainty by exploring different scenarios. Running lean experiments that are fast, affordable and highly-adaptable can help to validate your assumptions about the following future scenarios:

  • Resource & Ecosystem Mapping. How can you best utilise your resources in a post-COVID world?
  • User Journey and Life Cycle Analysis. What strategies will enhance customer experiences and boost long-term engagement?
  • Hypotheses, Success Factors and KPIs. How will you monitor your progress over the coming months?
  • Operating models and commercial models. How can you adapt your business model to thrive in the new normal?
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Innovation Strategy #2: Lean Experimentation

While future scenarios focus on preparing for the unknown, Lean Experimentation refers to the process of repeating agile and highly-adaptable tests to systematically mitigate uncertainty as you discover new evidence which supports or disputes a hypothesis.

Thinking about the future helps you understand the key shifts and changes that will happen, as well as the changes that you would like to happen. Lean Experimentation or the ‘Lean Startup’ methodology is all about forming assumptions that you can test.

This systematic approach uses a four-step process:

  • Hypothesis. What assumption about a future scenario would you like to investigate?
  • Test. Use a series of lean experiments to test whether your assumptions are true.
  • Measure. Collect data from your experiments to validate or disprove your assumption.
  • Learn. Interpret your findings to help you make better decisions in the future.

Repeating this cyclical process helps to systematically reduce uncertainty and focus your resources into innovations most likely to bring you success. Lean Experimentation is all about using available resources to validate your strategic bets.

To develop this approach in the current circumstances, your organisation should:

  • Prioritise data. Capturing data from every engagement, so every new challenge, insight and idea can feed the process and further refine your approach.
  • Encourage creative collaboration. Schedule fixed-duration sessions to help refresh and encourage collaboration within your team.
  • Embrace a ‘digital native’ approach. Take your organisation online and learn how to fill cultural and productivity gaps during the migration process. 

Contagious Innovation: How to Develop an Innovation Strategy That Spreads Through Your Entire Organisation

Adapting to the ‘new normal’ of a post-COVID world depends on your ability to fuel a contagious cycle of innovation across your organisation. Contagious innovation, the concept of spreading innovation through the entirety of your organisation as well as with other organisations, is a three-step process:

  • Continuous Iteration. Embracing experimentation to systematically reduce risk and collect information is vital to keep your innovation strategies on-track and aligned with your objectives.
Continuous Iteration
  • Employee Support. Equipping your team with the skills and resources they need to amplify lean innovation strategies is vital to maintain a cohesive vision. Disjointed and unbalanced teams will result in wasted energy and conflicting ideas of what success looks like.
Employee Support
  • Chain Reaction. Breaking down silos between partners and suppliers will help to validate solutions and enable execution across your entire value chain. The best innovation strategies will resonate from the core of your organisation and trigger contagious ripple effects.
Chain Reaction
COVID-19 Innovation Strategies For The New Normal Studio Zao

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$9 trillion of estimated reduction in global GDP over the next 20 months. (Source: IMF)

The global landscape is changing rapidly due to the COVID-19 outbreak, organisations are increasingly focusing on internal business transformation so that they can better adapt to this uncertainty, and thrive in it.

Want to learn more about how intrapreneurs can help your organisation thrive in the face of adversity?

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