Innovation in a time of crisis. A solution that enables growth and stability.
Uncertainty and instability
The last year has been a hugely transformative period of time as the world has come to grips with the emergence of Covid and the huge impact it’s had on every single aspect of our lives. There is clearly no doubt that the world will never be the same again as many businesses have struggled to survive this crisis with many unfortunately going out of business. We have also seen fundamental changes in consumer behaviour as people have adapted and changed how they do things more or less as a result of the restrictions or limitations placed upon them by Covid. Whether people will return to the ‘pre-Covid’ ways of doing things is highly questionable.
As a result of this companies of all shapes and sizes need to take a step back and take a deep look at their business to understand how it will fit into a ‘post Covid’ world, whenever that eventually emerges. More than ever they need to be prepared to change every aspect of their business from how they connect with their customers through to more fundamental changes in the very nature of their products or how they do things.
Historically innovation has always taken place during period of crisis when the ‘order’ of doing things and what was previously deemed ‘acceptable’ is rejected and new forms or approaches emerge sometimes as out of necessity or other times as a result of new approaches or innovation. At these times of great change only the strongest and most agile or nimble companies that were able to adapt quickly and effectively survived. This remains critical now more so than ever before.
Role of intepreneurs in creating change and innovation
Innovation has a crucial role in driving business strategy, yet many companies are historically hesitant to embrace innovative thinking. This is because conservative or risk-averse companies typically find it hard to tolerate such risks and failures that accompany innovation. The reality is that innovation is, in itself, a risky endeavour and very few new innovations or approaches will work, at least not immediately. Nevertheless, companies still need to understand that it’s only through embracing innovation and trying to take steps to mitigate the risks involved that they can survive the kind of crisis that we are facing as a result of Covid-19.
Unfortunately companies being risk averse often results in companies being unintentionally hostile and unsupportive to intrapreneurs who are often the ones pushing for new forms of experimentation and for change in some shape or form. This can have a devastating impact as these individuals are the individuals who play a fundamental role in driving the company into a new direction and in new forms of thinking or ways of doing things.
Limiting the freedom or ability of intrepreneurs to push for change runs the risk of alienating them. They may begin to feel like they are an unsupported ‘lone voice’ in trying to encourage and to embrace new ideas. Yet these individuals play a crucial role in acting as a nexus for change, often with the mindset needed to experiment and to embrace new ideas or approaches, despite there being risks in doing so for the company.
For companies to emerge stronger from the current crisis we are experiencing companies need to support these individuals by giving them access to resources and crucially the freedom needed to experiment. This requires a radically different approach in terms of systems and structure and a high degree of flexibility that many corporates find difficult to embrace. Only by doing so can a company or organisation embrace risk in a new way and to be more innovative in every aspect of their business or operations.
Need for new forms, systems and ways of thinking
Most companies have systems or processes in place which are not adaptable or flexible enough to enable innovative thinking. These companies are often too constrained in how they approach work, which means they lack innovative capability to quickly develop and adapt new approaches. This mindset is very limiting and restricts intrapreneurs from being able to implement new ideas and approaches.
Unfortunately in times of austerity companies often also lack the funds needed to invest into new hires and other resources that you would think would be needed for new initiatives. It’s also difficult for intrapreneurs to pitch for additional resources when there are other projects or initiatives that may need them as well that could already be generating revenues. Yet times such as these are exactly when they need to look for ways to support the future growth of the business.
The role of Proto Innovation
We believe that we have an important role in helping companies during this difficult time, now more so than ever before, to be innovative in almost every aspect of their business. Whether its new product ideas, approaches to marketing to customers, in their systems of processes or even in embracing greater diversity in their teams. We want to work with companies to help them to adapt to these changing times and to create the right apparatus and systems to embrace innovation. In doing so we will mitigate the risks faced and crucially provide them with the tools, framework and right way of thinking to not just survive this crisis but to flourish.