“Sometimes you need a little crisis to get your adrenaline flowing and help you realize your potential.” Said Jeannette Wall, and I tend to agree.
Necessity is indeed the “mother of invention”.
A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem. This saying appears in the ‘Dialogue Republic’, by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. So, its nothing new. Yet we still reach for the blunt axe when faced with a crisis.
Taking a moment to consider the consequences. Thinking a little more medium term, looking at our resources, considering options, understanding the changing landscape and appearing opportunities, is how we become successful. It’s where the true pivot comes from. Unlocking creativity in crisis is not a natural response and we have to remind ourselves, and our people, to keep calm and considered, in order to remain creative.
In crisis the marketplace is moving at a staggering rate. Your business model is under duress regardless of your industry. Business models are being disrupted. To move fast enough organisations and their leadership have to be inherently agile, encouraging innovation to be in their DNA.
Only in agility and innovation is there the likelihood of sustainability. If you don’t innovate, you die. Look at Nokia, absolute global dominance gone in less than a decade. They ignored the smartphone revolution and became irrelevant very quickly. Their response was to defend the status quo. This is a very natural reaction; defend what you know. But now, you have to “embrace what will kill you”.
Creativity is much more than generating ideas internally, it’s more about creating a culture where ideas can be adopted regardless if their origins. We have to get over the pride of “it wasn’t invented here”. Fast adoption of ideas and innovation from outside an organisation will ensure more consistent growth. As an organisation builds the ability to recognise innovation, and adopt it, it’s chances of not only surviving, but thriving become enhanced. That capability is based on a culture that is open, full of trust and yet willing to challenge the status quo.
If we are in danger of being disrupted at the core, then our innovative focus also has to be at the core. The idea of a meritocracy where the best ideas win, regardless of their origin is the counter to high levels of disruption. Take Linex, the open source software company RedHat, for example. Their structures and lines of reporting, if you can call them that, are much more like an organic eco-system, than a traditional mechanistic hierarchy. In that environment a meritocracy seems to work, and they are known for innovation and agility. Perfect for a responsive organisation that needs to move fast in a crisis.
There is no doubt that when a crisis hits, new needs appear. It’s the nature of life. If we can challenge the status-quo and put our heads up long enough to see what is changing in the world of our customers, we will see new needs emerging. Where there are new needs there are new opportunities. But only those willing to shift and be creative will capture the new. We can never stop learning and evolving, it’s how we win.
Eric Hoffer said it best; “In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”