Turning crisis into opportunity: a thought circa. March 2020
Crisis (n.) — a time of great disagreement, confusion, or suffering
The current pandemic that we are living through is a crisis that offers new opportunities, albeit in unequal measures for different people. In our roles as design strategists looking to make businesses thrive and make life better, we, as design strategists, spend most of our time listening to stories from people and will continue to do so to understand just what the “new normal” might be.
Though we are only at the beginning of changes to come, we see two points of reflection for businesses in moving forward:
Do what you do, make it digital
At the most functional and immediate level, businesses must go digital to survive. If digital transformation was a buzzword, now it could be the silver bullet that saves your company. This is everything from going online with work processes like billing and meetings to fully immersing your product offerings in what Joseph Pine calls the experience economy. If your product is non-digital, how can you make it a service, digital or otherwise, that can thrive in the age of social distancing? One benefit of this as food becomes meal service and exercise classes becomes virtual social networks, is that society will place more value on intangible, digital experiences.
Whereas we have a benchmark towards free for everything that is digital (search engine, social networking, instructional videos, etc.), might we now assign more value to digital assets? We’re excited to see and help shape what would emerge in the coming months, just like how multimedia streaming services (Netflix, Spotify) rose out of the ashes of torrenting platforms.
Pause to better serve
At the emotional level, we can take this “quarantine of consumption” as a chance to slow down and reflect on your core values. Who are you really, as a business entity? What needs or aspirations are you serving and for whom?
It’s a perfect time to reframe; from providing quality housing to peace of mind day in, day out for the real estate world; from selling everyday goods to prototyping your dream lifestyles for the retail sector; from nourishment to warm and familial connections for the restaurant business.
All businesses need to have a functional need, but this, this change, reminds us that there’s more to the good life than just what things do — it’s what they mean to us as people. As hard as it may feel, we can take the time to pause and think about who it is that we are serving as businesses.
Here at Amplifi, we believe that to reframe is to innovate. Because when we do, we can come back to how we can best help people live a better life, including those who you’ve never thought you could serve before.
“We will have to pick up the residue and reinvent everything from scratch once the virus is under control.” — Li Edelkoort
So, in this time of crisis, we say it’s time to go digital and dig deep into your core values. But let’s not wait until the crisis is over. Let’s listen earlier — now.
How might we do that? Here’s a thought about user journeys to start:
> List all the touch-points between your business and your users, from product discovery through after-sales service
>> Mark all the touch-points that are affected by COVID-19 pandemic and local regulations — such as curfews, shelter-in-place, take-out only, work-from-home
>>> Ask: is that touch-point necessary? If so, how can we circumvent the circumstances? Put reality in a box for a minute, and enjoy coming up with out-of-this-world ideas! (Enjoy it! Take a break from reality — and the news!)
>>>> Now pick one and see how you can prototype it in a way that embraces your core values (jokes! bright graphics! feelings of a warm hug!). What are your core values? It’s a great to time to reflect and re-communicate with your team.
We’d love to hear your stories of how you’ll thrive in this time of confusion.
Sources of inspiration:
We’re not going back to normal by Gideon Lichfield for MIT Technology Review Coronavirus offers “a blank page for a new beginning” says Li Edelkoort by Marcus Fairs for Dezeen
This reflection is adapted from a Facebook post for Amplifi Design, a design strategy consultancy based in Bangkok, Thailand.