Sometimes we’re just stuck.
We can’t see a way through many of the obstacles in front of us. We feel like our minds are spinning... like a stalled computer.
We know there’s a pathway out of this pandemic into the new normal, but we can’t seem to move past the spinning color wheel and onto the next great thing.
If you’re stuck, it’s time to get out of your day-to-day brain and figure out how to creatively solve the problems in front of you. To do so, you need a strategy.
Often, strategy is about thinking creatively. If you think creatively, you can leverage your assets and skills for changing customers' needs.
To get the creative juices flowing, we’ll start with a game that helps us move beyond the how and on to the what. How you’re going to do business in the new normal will become more clear when you figure out what you’re going to do.
By thinking strategically and creatively, we can figure out exactly what it is we need to do in the post-pandemic era.
Game Time: Disassociation
What should your business become?
That’s one of the main questions on our minds these days. But we’re stuck on what the answer should be. So, let’s play a game of “Disassociation” to get past the block.
This game is all about taking the words in your head, disassociating them from your present reality, and recasting them so you can use them creatively.
By moving through the next five steps, you’ll separate the word from the tactical anchors, sunk cost, traditions, and habits causing it to occupy too much of your brain space and start seeing some real potential solutions for the future. Grab a sheet of paper and let’s play.
Step 1: Write Master Words
Write 8 single words that reflect issues, opportunities, or concerns you have about what your business should become. What words keep you from moving forward? These “master words” are your current obstacles.
My list looks like this:
Step 2: Group Words
Review your list. What words are related? Circle the words that seem connected in some way.
Maybe you wrote accountability, budgets, and uncertainty. These relate to leadership.
Do you see certain issues emerge? Is there a pattern of words that relate to internal business processes, sales, marketing, or personnel?
For me, these groups emerged:
Step 3: Write Descriptor Words
For each master word or group, write 2-4 “descriptor words” that help clarify the issue and why it’s relevant to the question.
For “virtual,” I came up with these descriptor words:
Step 4: Form Triplets
After your word cloud is done, you’ll see some terms appear more than once — maybe even often. From this, build trios of words where each of the three words is strongly connected to the others.
Out of my list, I formed these three sets of triplets:
There are no wrong groupings in these triplets. The purpose of this exercise is to move you away from the original master words that are draining your brainpower. Because these triplets are now 2-3 degrees removed from the master words, we can use them to come up with fresh ideas and think strategically.
Step 5: Brainstorm Business Ideas
What business ideas do these triplets give you? Write down whatever comes to mind. In this stage, there are no bad ideas. Just write something down!
For the Skills/Design/Value triplet, I came up with these ideas:
- Predesign virtual meeting formats
- How can I offer people templates depending on the type of meeting they have? This will help them understand the potential of the tool.
- Pricing by audience size
- We historically charge more for bigger screens, projectors, and sound systems — why wouldn’t a bigger audience for a virtual event also be worth more?
- Using freelance designers for spec projects
- How do I get the design/skills I need without the full-time staff who specialize in this area? Outsource.
Are these the best ideas ever? It doesn’t matter. If it’s an idea, write it down.
This exercise is not going to completely redesign your business. But it will help you get away from the issues that have been holding you back and find a way to open your mind to something new.
One good idea is worth considering 100 bad ideas. If you have to write down 100 business ideas to come up with one idea that you’ll commit to and invest in, it’s worth it.
Strategy Time: Use Innovation to Achieve Your Goal
This game isn’t just for kicks — it’s a tool to help us innovate. We must innovate, now more than any other time in our careers. What we’ve done in the past may not help us stand out in the future.
Yes, changing the way your business operates is tough, especially when you consider undoing 30 years of groundwork in our industry roots. But right now is the perfect time to innovate.
To innovate purposefully, talk to your customers, prospects, and targets. They’ll help you understand what’s valuable to your segment, which should influence your strategy. We have a prime opportunity in this economic reset to let go of traditions and get a grip on strategy.
Often, our way of doing things is not based on best practices, it’s just based on the traditions of what everyone else does. Let’s figure out what the best practices should be because it’s not necessarily something that grows naturally out of what we’re doing now.
These three questions will get you started:
1. What’s your goal?
Start by identifying what you really want to happen in your business. When it comes down to it, most business leaders choose one of these goals:
Decide on your goal, and tell the members of your organization. Many leaders fail early on because they never communicate the overarching goal for their business.
2. What does it take to get there?
- If you want to be the biggest, you have to invest money.
- If you want to be the best, you have to figure out intellectually how to surpass your competition.
- If you want to be profitable, you have to learn how to take risks.
- If you want to be happy, you need to build confidence.
3. Are you willing to do what it takes?
Yes or no.
All in all, your goal/commitment analysis might look like this:
Anyone can grow a company… but are you willing to do what it takes? If so, use creative strategy to find a pathway forward in the new normal.
For more on developing strategic advantage, establishing a vision you can work towards, and how to stay on track, check out our full Week 8 (May 6) webinar replay of our weekly series: The Show Will Go On — Business Survival Series.
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