Guest Post by Daniel Burrus (first posted on CERM ® RISK INSIGHTS – reposted here with permission)
Disruption is a central component of the Anticipatory Organization Model, focusing closely on how Anticipatory Organizations and individuals can look at disruption and see enormous opportunities.
The untimely situation we currently face with COVID-19 is no exception; not only has every industry been touched by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, every country has. There is literally no safe haven from this disease, and businesses both large and small have found themselves in a predicament unlike ever before.
However, much as they do with digital disruption, Anticipatory Leaders leverage disruption of any kind by way of realigning their focus and, especially in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, develop a new product or service to benefit humankind or to help wage war on this terrible illness.
Being an Anticipatory Leader during this crisis allows you to anticipate what’s to come and thus not have to wait for the next big disruption to innovate and transform your industry. Traditionally, there are three common reasons industries get stuck, and during a global pandemic, these still prove to be obstacles.
Here are those three obstacles, with some real examples of companies overcoming them, and ideas for companies in specific industries that have undoubtedly been disrupted and had production halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
You may have felt a strong sense of growth before the COVID-19 pandemic; however, once lockdowns were put in place, that positivity about the future was greatly challenged, possibly sending you and your organization into stagnation.I implore you to continue to innovate and become an Anticipatory Organization during all of this. Resting on your laurels rarely works during conventional times, and it will surely be trouble during uncertain times. Let’s say you own a screen-printing company that was deemed nonessential. How can you still push innovation in the face of uncertainty and become a positive disruptor in your industry during a lockdown?I have a feeling you can! A screen-printing company has the ability to transition from making corporate and college apparel, such as T-shirts and hoodies, to much-needed PPE like face masks. In addition to creating the physical protective gear, it’s possible for the company, in even the smallest ways, to improve mental health by way of perhaps screen-printing fun graphics and artwork on masks to help bring a smile to the faces of those in these dark times.
- Customer Frustration
The message is clear: We are all uncomfortable being locked down, disallowed to visit our favorite restaurant or partake in our usual gym routine. Many customers will feel like canceling their memberships out of frustration and distancing themselves from their favorite establishments, so you must find a way to engage them. We are all in this together; observe your customers’ behavior and create opportunities in a way to still serve them, even with your doors closed.Don’t focus on the obstacles of being shut down; focus on how you can innovate and still serve your loyal customer base despite having to close. For example, think of how a self-defense gym can continue to host daily classes remotely via Zoom to keep its members engaged and satisfied.Aside from teaching classes remotely, the same self-defense gym could take this opportunity to introduce a new product and offer new classes never before offered to its students, such as fitness courses to prevent injury while practicing self-defense or learning how to eat healthier with meal plans.
- Slow-to-Launch Products
With now being a better time than any to pay attention to the Hard Trends, separating them from the Soft Trends, and becoming Anticipatory in order to continue innovation in a time possibly void of progress, if you have identified a product or service that can help the world, don’t dawdle.Be sure to reassign your workforce, employees, or coworkers to focus on that product or service exclusively to get it out now rather than later. An example: a company that hosts 5K fun runs and needs to shut down all its spring and summer events might create an app that allows individuals to compete in a “remote 5K” by logging in and still participating in a 5K. Doing this would allow the company to still host the event in some way, whereas if it delayed or ignored this opportunity, someone else would take advantage of it.With wearable technology dominating the fitness industry previously and now even more so, given the number of individuals out of work and looking for something to improve their lives with, the companies that create these devices have taken note and expedited the release of new products quickly. Fitbit is a great example, as during April the company rolled out a set of new features that help its users learn how to protect themselves from COVID-19 and, more importantly for working out and self-betterment, reduce stress during the quarantine.
Industries That Are Experiencing Disruption
Everything from Disney World and its in-person experiences to the music industry and summer music festivals are experiencing tremendous uncertainty. But again, with that uncertainty comes great opportunity combined with digital technology, as can be seen with recording artist Travis Scott and his virtual Fortnite concert breaking records and redefining what can be done when there seems to be no hope for going back to normal.
Want to know some specific industries in which this global pandemic has created obvious opportunities for disruption and possibly paved the way for a more cost-effective and efficient future? Here are three that come to mind, along with some examples as to how those industries have already seized new opportunities in this pandemic and overcome some seemingly impossible roadblocks:
- Sports Entertainment. Prior to COVID-19, there was already a boom of e-sports, with everything from basketball to racing, so will this pandemic be the final disruptive event to push the sports industry over the edge to where e-sports officially becomes the new mainstay of tomorrow? Or better yet, will “crowd-less” games and races become a more cost-effective way to run things?Here’s a real-world example of sports entertainment innovation that has already happened in the NFL: the annual draft. This year, it was supposed to be hosted in Las Vegas, new home of the Raiders organization, and staged right at the Bellagio fountains. Given the nationwide quarantine, this event was abruptly cancelled; however, the draft was not.Using Zoom Communications in conjunction with its broadcast, the NFL hosted the very first remote NFL draft in history. It even broadcasted fans on the TV screen behind the commissioner, who was live from his basement, to help keep that “audience” feel to the event. Only time will tell if, come this fall, the NFL hosts its first “crowd-less” games in the history of the league.
- Real Estate. One indisputable fact of this pandemic is that working remotely is possible, reduces pollution, and saves companies money by cutting down on office space. Realtors already work remotely, but how do they show homes remotely? There have already been some virtual tours accomplished with the use of virtual reality (VR). Will this be the new way of seeing a home after all this?Prior to COVID-19, there were several commercial buildings sitting mostly vacant due to the reality that remote work is on the rise. Now, given the situation we find ourselves in worldwide, many of those buildings are completely empty, giving way to the question, “Couldn’t those be converted into temporary hospitals?”They definitely could, as many exposition centers at fairgrounds and even convention centers, such as the Javits Convention Center in New York, the area most affected in our country by the coronavirus, are being converted into overflow hospitals for those who have become ill. Think of the positive impact real estate investors with vacant commercial properties could make by way of opening smaller, more local, improvised overflow hospitals.
- Higher Education. Many professors I’ve spoken to since the start of the global pandemic have quickly converted to online teaching by using Zoom and other video media. Several colleges are completely online; however, even more are not. Will this be the push to use more affordable online education technology to cut down on student debt?Despite courses going online, I’ve heard from both students and professors that many are disappointed in the reality that spring commencement has been called off or rescheduled. However, much as the NFL did with its draft, many universities have pivoted and explored doing a virtual commencement for now.For example, Carroll University, the first four-year university to open in Wisconsin, holds commencement on the front lawn of its historic landmark Main Hall building every May. This year, for the first time in the college’s nearly 174-year history, it has been cancelled. But instead of just writing it off as a bad year, the university is having the first virtual commencement in its history, ushering in hundreds of new graduates in a historic way.
Take a few minutes to consider your industry (or one that interests you). Are there opportunities and a need for positive disruption during this pandemic?
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the World’s Leading Futurists on Global Trends and Innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies helping them to develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. He is the author of six books, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal best seller Flash Foresight as well as the highly acclaimed Techno-trends.