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How to find creative solutions at work in the midst of the covid-19 crisis

A crisis is often a powerful catalyst for change, creativity and innovation

It has long been known that a crisis, or sense of urgency is a powerful catalyst for change and creativity. In the current situation, many organisations are having to innovate to survive and to continue to serve their customers.

Restaurants have switched to offer home deliveries, lessons and lectures are taking place online, businesses are accelerating their adoption of digital channels, use of video conferencing is exploding as more people work from home, new supply chains are being rapidly developed. We’ve probably all been impacted by at least one of these and the predictions are that many of these innovations will impact us for many years to come.

How to harness your creativity at work – seven questions to ask yourself

1. What are the most significant changes that I am faced with right now? (e.g. change in market, restrictions on normal ways of working such as face-to-face transactions/meetings, lack of supply of raw materials). If you are in sales, the demand for your products may have evaporated, and if you normally work face-to-face, you will no longer be able to do this – these are significant challenges that you need to address. Whatever the change, it’s important to take a step back and understand the unique challenges that you’re currently facing. This is the first step to finding creative solutions to tackle them.

2. How do these changes make me question my long-standing assumptions about what creates success? (e.g. I may have always assumed that I need to deliver my services in a particular way, or that I will always be able to get the raw materials I need, or an organisation may assume that everyone needs to be in the same office in order to work well together, or I may assume that my job is secure). In order to develop creative solutions, you will need to challenge these long-standing assumptions and decide if they are helpful or not in the current crisis. So, taking our sales example, you will need to firstly consider product demand. Your assumptions may always have been that you sell a specific product, to a specific market, for a specific purpose. How could you challenge this assumption to view your product demand differently? What similar product is there a current demand for? How could you re-purpose, re-position or adapt your product to meet a different genuine need?

3. What might the long-term implications be? (e.g. what are three or four different scenarios or ‘story lines’ to consider, such as ‘short blip’, or ‘local supply’ or ‘digital only’). One scenario might be ‘virtual gains’, with everyone becoming much more confident about remote working and using virtual meetings. In which case, this has implications for how people work going forward – will they all continue to be office-based and co-located or is there an opportunity to reduce the cost of office space and have home-working as standard? As you think about these scenarios it is important to challenge your long-standing assumptions about your job or your business. These may no longer be relevant in today’s world, and it’s possible they may never be relevant again, so it’s time to start challenging them and thinking creatively to establish new ways of working.


4. What does success look like for me/my work going forward? (e.g. financial security, sense of purpose, survival). This is about being clear on your goals – what are you really motivated to do right now? Have your motivations changed as a result of the current crisis? Is the crisis causing you to question what success means for you personally? For example, you might be keen to use this crisis to fast forward technological change and new ways of working, you might be content with still having a job and a company at the end of the crisis, or from a career point of view, you might have time to invest in developing new skills or increasing your employability. Thinking back to the sales example, you might want to set a goal of growing the business despite the crisis.

5. What are the options I have for achieving these goals in each scenario that I’ve considered above? (this is likely to involve you challenging previously held assumptions). This is where you can think about all the possible ways you could achieve the goals you’ve identified above – think big, think broad, ask yourself what options other people would see. So, returning to our sales example, you might identify a new product/market opportunity, or on a personal level you might identify this as an opportunity to develop new skills in digital marketing.

6. What else could I do? (it may take you a while to develop a wide range of options, the best ideas may not be the ones you come up with first). It’s worth asking yourself ‘and what else…?’ a few times. At this stage you don’t need to worry too much if it’s realistic or not – that comes next).

7. What are the pros and cons of each option and how could I check them out and decide on a course of action? (g. level of risk, level of skill needed, potential benefits). This will help you to evaluate the options and identify the most plausible, the ones you’d like to check out a bit more. So, if it’s a new collaboration technology or a new product, you would test out how well it would work, conduct further research or put together a costed proposal).

You can work through these questions on your own, and they can also be a great agenda for a team meeting. Have a go, see how you can find some creative and innovative solutions.


Originally posted on Hays Viewpoint, click here to view the full article.


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