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Creativity born out of crisis

Creativity born out of crisis

Unique situations call for unique decision-making

When something as internationally challenging as the coronavirus pandemic comes along, we have no choice but to change the way we do things. Businesses have adapted to the “new normal” in a matter of weeks, as lockdowns have been initiated and social distancing rules enforced.

The changes companies make now, however, should be more than just a quick fix. Those that will come out strong on the other side of this will be the ones who made their decisions creatively and considered the effects their decisions will have in the long run. Those that are already adapting well to the current situation are focusing on two main goals: being useful and going digital.

Be useful: Using resources creatively

It doesn’t take an experienced retailer to know that consumers are not as interested in buying non-essential products right now. Companies need to rethink what they can do with their available resources and make themselves useful.

One of the first companies to step up and completely transform their business was the fashion giant LVMH. Using their factories located in France, which usually manufacture fragrances for labels like Givenchy and Dior, they started producing hand sanitizer that they are donating to Paris’s 39 public hospitals. LVMH’s quick thinking and creative problem solving set a bar for other companies to follow suit.

Creative adaptation has also been the way forward for Nike, as they have come up with repurposed uses for their footwear materials. Together with Oregon Health & Science University, Nike has created a full-face shield and new lenses for PAPR helmets. Similarly, automakers like Ford and General Motors are collaborating with health equipment makers to build ventilators and respirators out of many parts usually used in car production.

These complete transformations of what companies can produce may be temporary operations, but they offer a valuable lesson: Creative problem solving, fast reaction, and reinvention is what will get companies ahead long after the pandemic has gone.

Go digital: Adapt for the long term

Completely transforming resources and materials into new products isn’t possible for everyone. Businesses that usually depend on physical stores and interaction have had to move their services online. Digitalization is a future most brands have already been working towards, but the pandemic has sped up the process. The most successful companies will be the ones that go digital in ways they can continue to benefit from later.

Catering is an industry hard hit by the new normal. To work within social distancing guidelines, Cheeky Food Events has found a way to digitalize their services by offering companies care packages. The food packages are shipped to coworkers’ doors, so that they can cook recipes in their own kitchens with a chef virtually guiding them through livestream.

Another industry hard hit by social distancing rules has been bars and other nightlife venues—which in turn affects alcohol brands. To make up for nonexistent nightlife events, four alcohol brands (Budweiser, Carlsberg, Rémy Martin, and Pernod Ricard) teamed up with e-commerce giant JD.com in China. JD.com created an online clubbing experience that streams directly into people’s living rooms—complete with the option of ordering drinks to be delivered right to their doors.

Almost any service or experience can go digital—even an animal sanctuary! California-based Sweet Farm usually gets some of its funding from in-person visits. To make up for the lack of visitors, they came up with the clever Goat2Meeting service. Businesses working remotely can pay to have a goat, llama, or other adorable farm animal crash their Zoom call. Who wouldn’t want that to liven up their workday?

What all of these businesses have in common is simple: They reinvented themselves in ways that will benefit them later in the post-pandemic world. Other companies should follow suit if they want to keep up. Get creative, be useful, and go digital.