While the COVID-19 crisis has had numerous awful effects on the world, this is a time for decisive action and true 10X innovation, not futility. We must look to hope-inducing examples of transformations born from past crises.
For example, by the end of 1990, India was in a serious economic crisis. The government’s foreign exchange reserves had reduced to the point that India could barely finance three weeks’ worth of imports. India was forced to align with a market-oriented economy and liberalize. Until then, the nation relied on a socialistic foundation and associated economic principles. It changed the state of India’s economy, with more than 140 million people pulled out of poverty in the next 20 years, the second-highest rate in the world after China.
Would it have been easy for India to secure a political or economic acceptance if it was not hit with a crisis? Probably not. The driver of change was clearly a doomsday that loomed large over the country’s future.
On a separate note, a Harvard Business Review article titled “6 Drivers of Change” tracks the experiences of three Fortune 100 company chairpersons on transformational changes. The need for a crisis or some kind of burning platform was cited as their No. 1 motivation.
In fact, the term, burning platform, refers to the story of a worker living on a North Sea oil rig. He woke up one morning to a loud explosion. Having no choice, the man reached one edge of the platform and jumped 30 meters into ice-cold waters. He survived the fall and the sea, although, in ordinary circumstances, the man would have never plunged into icy waters. After he was rescued, he admittedly said that a ‘burning platform’ caused a radical change in his behavior.
People come together
Research work published in 2012 in Scientific American shows that social connections become particularly important under stress. Stress naturally leads to a sense of vulnerability and loss of control. Positive social behavior surfaces for our collective survival as a species while we’re under pressure.
While we shouldn’t need another tragedy to bring us together, we must recognize that the human impulses of empathy and community intensify during such times. And that helps drive change better.
If we look at Hurricane Sandy (which tore through the Caribbean in 2012), the tsunami that lashed on Asia in 2004, or the earthquake that shook Mexico in 2017, millions were impacted, as we all know. However, there have been untold stories of another million who came together to help rebuild ground zeroes and aid the victims of these disasters.
There have been amazing examples of brotherhood, unity, and camaraderie. There have been individual sacrifices, exemplary leadership displays by commoners, and help pouring in from all corners of the world. These give us hope and a sense of continued progress as humanity.
People welcome change in crisis
There have also been moments of truth for business corporations in recent times. In September of 2017, when the aforementioned enormous earthquake rocked Mexico City, it is estimated that more than 90% of Mexico City residents didn’t have home insurance at the time. Some people lost everything. Many feared aftershocks and what would follow. Most insurance providers stopped offering new policies for two weeks, while INTERprotección transformed the tragedy into a trust-building opportunity by serving the local community.
INTERprotección knew they needed to respond fast, and they did so by using the ExO methodology (a business transformation process to future-proof business) they learned from the ExO Sprint. A SWAT team of their ExO Sprint Alumni swung into action, to launch home insurance for the first time—all within 72 hours. Their new product provided two months of vital aftershock coverage for free to a sizable population of previously uninsured homeowners. They then saw a 36% conversion to paid plans.
ExO Sprint and crisis are related
The most crucial ExO Attribute for companies, projects, or people is a Massive Transformative Purpose that outlines why they exist and how they intend to work with their community and stakeholders to improve as many lives as possible. A crisis is a massive problem that requires purposeful, creative problem-solving at scale. It can be a rallying event to coalesce a community that will passionately create immediate solutions or blueprints for the future. Crises break down the usual bureaucratic barriers to experimentation as people “MacGyver” many little fixes, some of which go viral and permanently change the world for the better.
In other words, a crisis already mobilizes many ExO Attributes, but if we define them and replace chaos with a facilitated ExO methodology, we can surely find many more solutions that are 10X cheaper, better, and safer.
There are three key reasons why every business should apply the ExO Sprint process and its methodologies to change the world forever:
- First, most enterprises can leverage an unfair advantage in their ability to put together large-scale, on-demand resources within a few hours — something, that startups can’t.
- Second, access to an abundance of volunteer efforts, a global community of talents, crowd-sourced funding, and shared assets including IP become possible. All the elements of SCALE ExO Attributes can be deployed very quickly.
- Third, adoption by end-users or customers also becomes easy, as crises liberate people from their old habits because they’re driven by a strong survival instinct. Doing good at such times also means good business!
Ready to Sprint? We are ready to help!
Should we wait for another tragedy to come together to make a positive change? I am sure not. The lesson of the burning platform is that it is far better to anticipate the crisis and change the behavior well before the explosion.
We can simulate in our thinking that a tragedy has struck and work back from there. The world would become a better place to live in. For now, COVID 19 is running high—let’s be the change and drive change!
OpenExO is ready to help!
This article was first featured on ExOWorks on March 4, 2020.
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