The past few months have been challenging in many aspects. There have been a lot of changes such as working from home, taking care of online classes for your kids (I was my grandson’s first grade teacher!), multiple business closures and the list goes on. What I found interesting is how many businesses innovated in the face of adversity.
In my town, I was really impressed with the way restaurants changed the game dramatically. In the absence of in-house dining, several restaurants innovated with take-out dining. One local restaurant developed a very streamlined online or phone ordering system. Once you placed your order you were given a pick-up number. Once you arrived in the parking lot, there were about 20 numbered parking spots. When you pulled into your numbered spot, a server came to your car, verified your order and then quickly returned with your food. When you placed the food order you were given an opportunity to pay and add a tip, so the pick-up process was pretty seamless.
Another local restaurant had a system where you texted your car make/model/color when you were in their lot and a server delivered your order right to your car. We were regular diners at both of these establishments and they never had this kind of business model. They quickly innovated to adapt to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 rules. Based on the number of cars lined-up for pick-up orders, both of these restaurants were doing a pretty robust business. It was likely they had to furlough some servers, but the kitchen crew and some of the servers were busy. I am sure you have seen many examples in your area.
What was the payback for this innovation? Now that some of the dining restrictions are being lifted, these two restaurants are as busy as ever, although with some capacity restrictions. By innovating during the crisis, they kept their loyal customer-base.
The question is: how did you innovate during the recent crisis? For my polymer-related consulting clients, I’ve had two types. The first were those who kept their innovation projects going and we haven’t stopped working on new products. I have also started several new consulting projects during the COVID-19 timeframe focused on new products. The second client type put our projects “on-hold” despite my best efforts to convince then to keep moving forward.
Now more than ever, innovation will be the differentiator going forward. Have you re-evaluated your innovation pipeline after the COVID restrictions? It is highly likely that your pre-COVID strategy won’t work going forward. Too much has changed.
How did you innovate? Have you re-examined your innovation strategy? I’m here to help you take your innovation strategy and process to the next level.