When an individual or organization fears change and are uncertain, it's usually in regard to digital technology disrupting their status quo or from new, fast-moving competition.
While I myself have discussed at length these fears and many more, few would have thought that in the early stages of 2020, our economy would be in a downturn, we would be instantly converted to remote work or laid off, and we would be quarantined to our homes due to a global pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has suppressed our positive, innovative mentality as a species, sending us into a primordial tailspin of trying to restore the status quo. Due to fear, we are finding ourselves in a real-world dystopian society, where individuals prepare for the end of the world. The pandemic will end, but is it possible to make the new post-pandemic normal better than what we had before? If we get past the fear of "what next" and become anticipatory, using the power of disruptive change to create a better tomorrow for all, it can.
Going Remote, No Matter Who
A global pandemic and shutdown is very similar to what I've said about digital disruption for decades: It will disrupt every industry. However, what this pandemic is showing us is that many organizations can quickly shift to a new, remote workforce by digitally banding together and working efficiently from a distance. But what about those industries that don't have it as easy?
Virtual and augmented reality are two technologies that gained traction in recent years given the exponential changes of the Three Digital Accelerators: bandwidth, computing power, and processing power. Now, we see industries implement AR or VR to go remote when traditionally their business is based on the physical presence of a customer.
An example of this can be found in this Insider article, where Monterey Bay Aquarium and even Walt Disney World have gone remote using live streaming video and a form of VR so guests can still "walk through" Disney World. If Disney World can find a way to go remote, how can your organization?
Innovation Is Needed More Than Ever
A Hard Trend most people take for granted is that there are over 500 cycles that continue to begin and end. Based on this, the pandemic will end and the market and economy will bounce back.
While our worlds are in a period of indefinite stasis, people's needs aren't. I want us all to become positive disruptors, creating the disruptions that need to happen to make the world a better place by being rooted in significance over success, and helping others.
Looking for Opportunity in Helping Others
Perhaps your organization has shifted to remote work with ease, whereas a customer of yours in a similar industry is struggling. Is there a way to help them for no charge, and would they remember that generosity in the future?
This pandemic has inadvertently leveled the playing field; no one is safe from disruption, and this global disruption is happening a lot faster than digital disruption. We're all in the same boat, so one major way to innovate is to find ways to help your customers using avenues that you might not have thought of before.
This concept isn't solely constrained to business and customer relationships. Consider your employees who rely on you. An employee now working remotely with kids at home has to think in terms of profits and losses in their personal life. What are you doing to take care of your own?
In the NBA, many teams have stepped up, donating portions of their salaries to cover the losses the service employees will feel while out of work, incentivizing them with a sense of belonging to the organization while creating positive change throughout the rest of the NBA, as other teams followed suit.
Anticipation Will Get You Through This
Hard times will pass, but the Hard Trend in times of complete uncertainty is that a new day will dawn with new opportunities. There will be a tomorrow, so what are you doing to seize the opportunity it brings with it?
Those of you who have read my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization, know one of my principles is: Take Your Biggest Problem and Skip It. The real problem for your business isn't the virus, it's how you are reacting to it. Don't panic; focus on defining the real problem both you and your customers are having and use the certainties found in Hard Trends to reveal a solution.
In these highly unusual times with public schools, libraries, and brick and mortar businesses shutting down, there has never been a better time to be Anticipatory. Now more than ever, companies need to react quickly with virtual offerings to stay in business.
There are many negative Soft Trends happening right now that you may wish to reverse, such as the impact your company or industry is facing due to COVID-19. The good news is, Soft Trends can be changed
If you identify and leverage them appropriately, Soft Trends can be an enormous source for opportunity.
I'll be exploring this topic and more during my Strategic Deep Dive, Shaping the Future with Soft Trends--as well as providing a SPECIAL REPORT on COVID-19 on March 24, 2020 at 10am PT.