I have discussed at length the importance of making sure that the problem you and your organization are facing is the correct problem to be focusing on.
Currently, we are moving toward a post-pandemic “new normal” as we navigate the tidal wave of COVID-19. In one way or another, all industries were affected, but brick-and-mortar businesses were impacted the hardest, as they were forced to close by government-mandated stay-at-home orders.
Overnight, teachers, office executives, and many other white-collar jobs turned remote while doctors, nurses, and other service industry professionals reported to new on-site tasks, labeled as essential workers and sent to the front lines to wage this terrible battle against an invisible enemy.
The businesses whose doors closed temporarily faced a situation unlike any they have ever experienced; however, COVID-19 and the shutdown was not the real problem. The real problem here is lacking the ability to pivot, continuing to make money, and staying in business when you cannot have customers physically come to your business.
In-person businesses may have evolved and even implemented my Anticipatory Organization® Model in recent times of constant disruptive technology, but in the case of a pandemic, they had never considered a physical disruption in operation, where they would no longer be able to allow customers through the door.
During traditional times, using anticipation to pre-solve problems is more focused on the act of what the customer does coming to the business. The disruption caused by COVID-19 leveled the playing field for brick-and-mortar businesses. It didn’t matter if you owned a clothing store, a bakery, or a salon; you were closed and there was no escaping this.
How does being anticipatory help this cause? By learning to identify the Hard Trend certainties that will happen, we gain the confidence to make innovative bold moves and see a new dimension to personal and business risk.
To be anticipatory in a pandemic requires pairing it with agility, as I have discussed at length before. In-person businesses like restaurants implemented both anticipatory principles and paired them with agility; they offered curbside pickup for almost everything and, now going forward into the “new normal,” are paying attention to the Hard Trends shaping this new world we find ourselves in to pre-solve problems customers may encounter.
But how about businesses that don’t serve food or sell a physical product? How do they offer something similar to curbside pickup during a lockdown, and now that we are reopening, how do they pre-solve post-COVID-19 problems as an Anticipatory Organization and an industry overall?
One major way is to utilize exponential thinking, which is to look beyond just a single use of something. For example, the real estate industry utilized virtual walkthroughs of properties via Matterport technology, and many businesses in the past few years have implemented this for customers or potential employees to walk through their facility.
This way, going forward, if there is continued resurgence of this virus and we do get locked down again, they will have a plan for customers that bring in the bulk of their income, and likewise, they also regain the trust in that same clientele if they are not yet comfortable in returning, despite cleaning protocols and social distancing, as they are made aware that they are a tremendous value to your business.
Consider this as well: one Hard Trend your business can be sure of is that “this pandemic will end at some point.” So, what happens to your investment in a virtual experience once customers start to come back?
Well, that virtual experience is in no way useless when patrons can physically return. Think of how many experiences you can create in your industry with wearable technology, such as a VR headset. How can you de-commoditize those experiences and make them available both on-site and off-site for consumers to consume and use at their convenience?
The key is to make sure we identify and solve the correct problem. What can you, as an Anticipatory Leader, see about the future of in-person businesses? Can you help solve the real problems on the horizon?
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.