Problem-solving for business problems is no longer an option; the pandemic has made it mandatory. Curiosity is critical to problem-solving. Why? Revealing problems that could prove damaging to business requires asking the right questions and following them up with additional thoughtful questions.
A mind that has been trained to be curious has access to a treasure trove of subjects and resources can be used to solve these problems. The building blocks of solutions are often already present in a curious mind. In this sense, curiosity sparks creativity, ideas and innovation.
Too often, curiosity is dismissed as a frivolous indulgence best neglected in favor of more grounded pursuits. However, doing so is a grave mistake. Two of the most legendary men in history, Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci, credit their success to the insatiable curiosity they felt throughout their careers.
Do Not Wait for a Crisis to Strike
Although some industries have been able to pivot and survive during the pandemic – for example, beauty salons have created hair coloring kits they sell online – waiting for a crisis to strike to get creative can leave vital opportunities to chance.
Companies that consistently exercise their curiosity position themselves to thrive in good times and survive in bad times. Here are a few examples of companies that were able to explore creativity:
- Zappos started selling shoes online and instituted a hassle-free return policy long before most retailers did.
- Zipcar filled a gap in the car rental industry by allowing people to vehicles by the hour, not just by the day.
- Rent the Runway made it possible for women to wear designer clothes they may not have been able to afford otherwise.
It’s important to ask questions to start creative exploration. For example:
- If you sell products or services that depend on a supply chain:
- How would you save your business if that supply chain were suddenly cut off, or couldn’t provide what you needed? For example: If you are only using one or one service provider, it may be time to explore look for options to have available.
- Are there alternate options that you haven’t explored that may fill a market niche now, but can also fill a supply gap should a crisis arise? For example: If your business makes products using dairy, are their options that you can explore that use plant-based milks?
- Are there any contract guidelines in your supply chain that might be important to know about that could impact you in times of a crisis? For example: Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic many assisted living, long-term care and nursing home facilities weren’t able to order medical essentials such as gowns or masks. These items were reserved for buyers who had been ordering said items in the past and likely would need them the most, such as hospitals and other medical providers. A shortage, high demand combined with a lack of order history resulted in significant complications within the supply chain for secondary care facilities who had not anticipated contract and/or supplier issues.
- If sell products or services that are currently only sold in-person:
- What other methods can you use to sell your products and services? Can they be sold online such as through your website? Could you create a waiting list for services and provide nurturing or drip email marketing campaigns until you are able to provide services?
- Can any of your products or services be modified to deliver through an alternate method? For example: A home construction company modified existing blueprints, and began selling revised blueprints online. A business wanting to train new sales people offered a combination of webinars and one-on-one coaching via screensharing. A venue offers 3D and virtual reality virtual tours to help plan future in-person events.
Use Your Imagination
Investing in new areas of growth allowed 14 percent of companies to outperform competitively and historically during economic downturns and recessions. (1)
Leading with imagination empowers organizations to shape challenging circumstances rather than struggling to adapt to them. The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps one of the most uncertain crises the world has faced in centuries. There is a new development, whether positive or negative, almost every day. Timelines and numbers keep shifting, but one fact remains the same: the world will change as a result.
This is where curiosity comes in. A curious mind views uncertainty as a golden opportunity to get creative and thrive. Furthermore, since a curious mind ravenously seeks out and digests information, it has a massive database of resources and ideas at hand to help formulate solutions.
While preparing in advance is the best route to take, it is not too late for companies to fire up their curiosity. Doing so effectively will require asking tough questions in order to unearth the problems that pose the most sinister threat to their business. But those who are willing to invest the time and effort in doing so will gain the ability to devise solutions that will keep them afloat during any crisis and empower them to thrive beyond it.
Uncertain times call for creative thinking. Contact Gavel International to be inspired with solutions that connect and engage your people.
- Navigating Leadership and Growth in Times of Crisis - September 15, 2020
- Leadership and Empathy: 6 Tips to Lead Effectively with Compassion and Intelligence - September 1, 2020
- Curiosity Inspires Innovation Breakthroughs Essential to Business - May 26, 2020