The Uncommonly

We are all innovators … so now what?

By Amy Radin

What a difference a few months make. Our world has been disrupted, and as a result we are all being pressed into service as innovators. We are being tested to the limits to react, recover, and reimagine how we will resume our lives, jobs, and business operations.

I am helping clients and colleagues, founders and owners shape their ideas into decisions and work streams as they continue to tap into The Change Maker’s Playbook’s Seek, Seed, Scale framework to direct their innovation efforts for impact during this extraordinary time.

How are innovation leaders adapting, anticipating, and getting ready for what’s next?

Innovators are preparing to react to what all expect will be an ongoing stream of new, urgent, and surprising issues.

By now you have addressed workforce and other stakeholder protection concerns. To minimize getting caught flat footed, make sure your team has an incidence response mechanism in place to get in front of the further issues that will continue to surface and demand your immediate attention.

Start with a simple, well-defined mechanism for surfacing issues and communicating information to the right people, quickly. Remember those fire drills from elementary school? Practice activating response processes to improve readiness and reduce the potential for confusion or delay.

Innovators are building resiliency to return to the market.

What steps are you taking to secure the stability of your supply chain so you can be ready to resume serving your customers and addressing their new needs? What have you learned about the reliability of your supply chain, and how can you improve by challenging what are likely outdated assumptions?

How are you engaging with your customers, especially if your pre-pandemic customer experience is no longer working? Do not let a vacuum form as a by-product of silence or non-responsiveness.  I am personally struck by the range of experiences my family and friends are having with different brands as we live under stay-at-home orders. This is a time when lasting impressions of brands – both positive and negative – will be formed.

What will people say about your brand next year?

Preparing for recovery by reimagining what your business will become.

Winston Churchill said, “Never waste a good crisis.”

This is a time when the courageous and optimistic among us will identify and seize opportunities. I speak to leaders who are already accelerating digital transformation plans, as the adoption barriers familiar to us all fall away out of necessity.

Innovation leaders are taking advantage of this unique moment to rethink their business’ customer experience. They see this monumental disruption as innovation fuel.

Addressing the critical requirements for plan-ahead efforts to succeed.

Above all, this is a time to go back to the basics of seeking insights from your customers, employees, and partners about what is happening in their lives. It’s a time to go as deeply as possible into supply chains to speak to the people who are closest to how things really happen in your business. These people may not always be sought out, but now they are likely to have fresh and useful answers about the way forward. Seek them out.

Go after divergent, non-obvious perspectives with an especially open mind. Listen to the people who are not normally alarmist, who are now sounding alarms. Their warnings and concerns should be honored and understood.

None of us know what is to come this year and next, and maybe even the year beyond.  The answers will be found through trial and error. We all have to anticipate best case, worst case and middle-of-the-road scenarios to be ready.

We can all figure this out if we work collaboratively, engage with optimism and hope, and ask, “how can this work?” Avoid “why it won’t work” behaviors.

This is a time for which innovators have trained – where we’ve built the muscle strength for creating value through the messiness our work always entails, and to which we can uniquely contribute, right now.

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About Amy Radin

Amy Radin is an adviser, speaker and author, working with executives and senior leaders to deliver growth through meaningful innovation. She offers an uncommonly pragmatic and disciplined approach that begins with pinpointing high-potential unmet market needs, and from there provides a proven framework for “what to do next” and how to lead through the inevitable, daily challenges any organization will face in pursuit of innovation.
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Amy is a leader who is demanding and relentless in the pursuit of the great.

In The Change Maker’s Playbook she shares her philosophy and methods to transform ‘out-there’ ideas into new real world business models that can change businesses’ growth trajectories and how brands engage with their customers.

Kahina Van Dyke
Global Head, Digital Channels & Client Data Analytics; Standard Chartered Bank Board Member, Progressive Insurance