The pandemic has wrought much damage on the economy. Some businesses have perished and others will survive, likely through cutting costs. But there are those that will prosper in the recovery through the strategic use of innovation.
Creativity in a Crisis: A Boardroom Map for Innovation a new report produced by Board Agenda in association with Diligent, the board portal software provider, offers a roadmap to help business leaders navigate the route to recovery through innovation.
The evidence that innovation works is growing. Studies by Bain & Co, McKinsey and Gartner show that the “companies that grew the most during and after the 2008 financial crisis were those that invested in innovation”, says the Board Agenda/Diligent report.
The pandemic presents another seismic event for corporates. According to the report, “organisations not only face the task of opening up again following a period of lockdown, they now need to navigate a wholly new economic, social, cultural, technological and political landscape. And central to this will be innovation.”
Exploiting innovation can be tricky but there are some prerequisites that will help create the right environment inside an organisation, and others will help boards navigate towards the right culture.
Key environmental factors include agile leadership; clear communication; a people-first strategy; adaptive operations; a focus on long-term value creation; and use of emerging technologies.
“Now is the time for boards to ask themselves how they are building an environment that fosters innovation,” says the report. “This will help them create the right foundations to move forward from the crisis and towards future growth.”
Leading from the front
Key questions to confront include the obstacles to boards responding with greater agility and whether management teams have the skills they need to navigate the crisis.
Another critical issue is whether companies operate with a people-first strategy and whether boards understand how they build purpose in their workforces.
Stepping stones to creating a culture of innovation include making it a priority in the boardroom; setting an innovation strategy; reviewing innovation goals for management; and constant appraisal of innovation projects.
The report concludes that crisis and innovation often go hand in hand and recovery can emerge from driving an innovation strategy. That will require adaptability and potentially creating new teams characterised by diversity and with entrepreneurial leaders.
“Boards can lead from the front,” the report says, “they can ensure they have innovation embedded in their own processes and this will encourage to embrace innovations as well.
“The recovery is an opportunity to reinvent organisations and a focus on innovation is a good way to ensure success in the uncertain post-pandemic landscape.”