how to innovate in times of crisis

What We’ve Learnt so far: How to Innovate in Times of Crisis

Some of the most successful businesses were born in the aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis: Uber, Airbnb, Slack, Pinterest, WhatsApp. Instead of burying their heads in the sand, or giving up when the going got tough, these brands radically reimagined and rebuilt their industries in the face of crisis, harnessing the latest technologies to reinvent the way things were traditionally done. 


While many of us will be fighting fires and doing everything we can to help our clients right now, let’s not forget to focus on the future. Let’s be the Ubers and Airbnbs. Let’s use this time of crisis to build even better organisations, to accentuate the good points and design out the bad, to use our core purpose to create more good in the world.  


In this post, we’ll run you through the lessons we’ve learnt from the Covid-crisis, ways you can innovate and future-proof your organisation, as well as some success stories from amazing brands who are innovating in the face of crisis. 


‘Out of adversity comes opportunity’ –Benjamin Franklin


In the face of calamity, we’re faced with opportunity. An opportunity to create real, transformative change, to build better, more meaningful organisations, to reach out to others from the goodness of our hearts and to be the change we wish to see in the world. 


So how can we problem solve, together? Right now, countless brands and organisations around the world are stepping up to help their communities in the face of crisis, using their collective skills, resources and expertise for social good. 


Brewdog have collaborated with the NHS to create a medically approved, freely available hand sanitiser. In just 14 days, they went from knowing nothing about hand sanitiser to becoming a fully approved supplier to the NHS, making and shipping over 100,000 units. Our pals and clients at Sweetdram are also using their distillery to make their own sanitiser for local frontline services in Edinburgh. In these selfless gestures, there’s a lesson there for all of us about the importance of perseverance, adaptability and the power of collaboration. 


Strategy is key 


Whether you’re being furloughed, or suddenly find yourself in a new routine, use this time to rethink your business model and how you work. Maybe you’ve been meaning to update your website but never had the time? Or perhaps you’re overdue a strategy session with your team? Now is as good a time as any to reboot, refocus and rethink what you do, why you do it and how you can do it better. 


Take the time to focus on your ‘why’- how can you improve your product/service and provide your clients with even more value? You could even get your whole team involved with a Value Proposition session on Zoom. 


We’re passionate about helping people build innovative business models and human-centred organisations that stand the test of time. That’s why we’re launching a 10-week business model training course on Zoom to help you transform your organisation, starting on 20th April. Using creative tools like the Business Model Canvas, we’ll teach you how to build a more stream-lined and customer-centric organisation, which is made to last, with actionable things to do after each webinar. We’re suggesting donations of £25 per person for the course, which we’ll be donating to the amazing team at NHS Tayside. We’ve raised over £300 so far for our wonderful healthcare heroes, and we’re so excited to teach businesses everything we know whilst supporting such a worthy cause. 


how to innovate in times of crisis

Keep your financials up to date


We can’t predict what’s coming around the bend, but if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of keeping Xero up to date! You’ll need the most accurate information for better forecasts, not to mention securing loans and funding. Plus, it’s just good practice. By regularly keeping on top of your bookkeeping, pushing invoices and receipts through Receipt Bank and reconciling your accounts, you’ll save yourself more time and headaches in the long run, rather than having to spend hours trailing through old data! You can also use our free Google sheet to keep on top of your cash flow in the coming weeks and months.


Models can be adapted 


When the going gets tough, there are creative ways you can innovate and create new revenue streams. Our pals at Goose’s Quizzes are a shining example of this. Hosting free pub quizzes on Twitch every night at 7pm, they’ve moved their pub quizzes entirely online, with suggested donations. They’re also offering private online quizzes with an easy-to-use platform, accessible questions and an engaging host, to help people feel connected even when they’re apart. In the space of just a few weeks, Goose’s Quizzes have gained thousands of new Instagram followers, built a growing online community, created an entirely new revenue stream and are bringing joy to their viewers every single day, doing something for fun and for others without profit as the main driver. 


Collaboration is powerful


Alone we can only do so little, but together we can achieve so much more. When people from different fields and different walks of life all come together for a common cause, amazing things start to happen. Whether its quarantined residents singing together from balconies, whole cities joining to celebrate our healthcare workers, or even small acts of collaboration that occur between members of your team, it’s these moments that remind us of the strength in solidarity. Through the power of collaboration, we can discover new and unexpected opportunities, learn more about ourselves, and find the strength to keep striving for better. 


In times of crisis, there’s an opportunity for us to come together and shift the cultural moment. Let’s steer our brands through the storm with an unwavering focus on empathy, collaboration and community.