Every crisis is different. Some present a bigger opportunity for change than others.
COVID-19 is definitely a crisis for the commercial airline and cruise ship industries. Although this crisis may prove to be “creative destruction,” resulting in more streamlined and capital-efficient industries.
It also will be interesting to see how adaptable, agile and flexible certain industries can be. There is clearly a need for more planes to fly cargo, particularly ecommerce packages. Some hotels have filled rooms and even entire buildings with college students heading back to school. Colleges and universities need more dorms due to social distancing requirements, and they need them now.
So, let’s look back at the two most challenging problems you identified at the end of my previous column: your biggest current personal problem and your biggest current business problem. Could either one be reframed or restated as an opportunity? Give it a try.
If that doesn’t open any doors to a new way to look at the current situation, then try asking yourself this question: Are there any possibilities or other options you haven’t considered for addressing your current biggest problems? Sometimes, thinking through possible adaptations to current changes can unlock promising ideas — third ways of thinking about a problem or opportunity that could, if you make the right choices, turn a problem or even a crisis into an opportunity.
Here’s one example: within a month of Florida’s first announced cases of coronavirus, Sarasota entrepreneur Anand Pallegar and his team began to implement a plan to bring three separate businesses — a marketing company, a technology firm and a mostly events-focused public benefit corporation — under a single umbrella. “It allowed us to connect the dots between three very different companies and highlight their ability to intertwine and engage with each other — ultimately to the benefit of the customer,” Pallegar says.
Pallegar originally tried a new name for this unified approach, but he realized the benefits of capitalizing on the strength of his most-recognized brand, marketing company AtLarge. “People knew it and trusted it,” he said. “So we decided to embrace AtLarge as the overarching brand for the collective and use it as the storyteller of what each sub-company did.”
A.G. Lafley, the former CEO of Procter & Gamble, worked for decades in and with large public companies. Over the past 15 years, he has turned more of his attention and energy to small businesses and nonprofit organizations. He currently serves on the boards of Omeza, Snapchat, Tulco, Hamilton College and the Sarasota Bay Park Conservancy. A Sarasota resident, Lafley has written best-selling books on innovation and strategy as well as numerous Harvard Business Review articles on leadership and management. His new website, LeadingToWin.com, comprises practical, how-to insights for small businesses, nonprofits and freelancers rooted in his five-plus decades of business experience.