The COVID-19 crisis has deeply shaken organizations around the world, with leaders being led to question the very fundamentals of their purpose and strategy. Beyond deploying short-term mitigation tactics—to ensure the safety of their work force, deal with demand and supply shocks, and so on—organizations must also grapple with the long-term consequences the pandemic will bring. It is vital that they do this today before the world changes so fast as to leave them behind.
It is difficult to predict today, while many are still in lockdown, exactly what those long-term consequences will be. That does not, however, mean that it is impossible to prepare for them. Businesses will need to do a lot of soul-searching to decide if their business models will be viable or desirable in a post-COVID world, whatever that may look like. For those that decide that change is inevitable, even if they cannot yet know exactly what the change will look like, building their capacity for innovation must become an utmost priority.
A powerful and simple approach to innovation can be found in W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy. This approach can help businesses deconstruct the limitations of existing industries—a task that is forced upon them by the current crisis—and create new market spaces, unconstrained by industry conventions and providing superior value to customers.
The greatest strength of the Blue Ocean Strategy approach lies in its power to transform mindsets, to truly inspire leaders to see that that innovation is not only desirable but possible. Change comes from the top, and once leaders see innovation not as a grudging necessity but as the lifeblood of an organization’s continued success, and as something tangible and doable, they will begin to build a true innovation culture that cascades all the way down the organization.
This transformational change—which does not happen overnight—is needed before organizations begin to question in exactly which direction they need to innovate. In that respect, too, Blue Ocean Strategy can help. With its intuitive yet powerful tools and frameworks, innovation teams are properly equipped to undertake a strategic analysis of the existing state of play, explore customer and non-customer pain points, and create new sources of value for customers. (Indeed, the crisis has already exposed inherent weaknesses and pain points in many industries that had been previously overlooked or thought unchangeable.) It is never too early for organizations to begin employing these tools and ask themselves: what can we do to bring better value to our customers, once the dust from the crisis settles (or even today)?
It is no easy task to think about innovation and prepare for the future while there are so many urgent problems today. But companies can, and must, do this—the future will be upon them before they know it.
At StratX ExL, we run Blue Ocean Strategy seminars for blue-chip clients worldwide. If you want your organization to build its capacity to innovate with this powerful methodology, contact us today for a free consultation.