This type of pandemic hasn’t happened since the Hong Kong Flu pandemic of 1968 and the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. As of the date of this post there are over 410,000 confirmed cases worldwide, over 18,000 deaths, and over 105,200 people recovered.
Unlike the last pandemic, around the world we are now well-aware of the consequences of this virus to our health, personal and business life, and the economy. This is all thanks to the tons of streaming news channels, internet and social media.
Crises in the past similar to the coronavirus crisis is not like it is today. Even back during the 2009 swine flu pandemic. People were not as well connected as we are now because of technological advancements of the web and social media. Television played the large part in providing awareness in the 80s when the ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic first broke out. Radio played the primary role in the spread of information during the 1968 Hong Kong Flu pandemic. Early in the last century, radio played the primary role in the 1918 Spanish Flue pandemic was print media. They informed but did not connect.
We have to keep moving forward in any way we all can. First by caring for others. Then, doing anything each of us can do to overcome this pandemic crisis. We have to remember that regardless of how difficult this will be, business and life must continue. Especially for the families and businesses affected directly.
Most importantly, we have to keep moving knowing that this too shall pass and we will overcome as we have in previous crisis. Taking this time to continue and to prepare getting our affairs and businesses ready is essential for the come back.
An obvious difference between the current coronavirus crisis and the past ones is the availability of technological tools that allow for more connected people in all apsect of society and we realt to each other and with each other.
In the past, connection was one-way through radio, print and television. Today, most of us connect with technology. People get news, people share news and sometimes, rumor and gossip via videos, streaming, email, text messages, devices, and more. People also influence other people. We are more connected than ever before. Not just personally, but in other aspects, like economy and business choices made every single day.
The current crisis will certainly test and will contribute to the human race’s tenacity and the need for connection and maintaining & building relationships. This crisis will forces to change and find new ways to connect for the sake of our personal and business life giving the draconian measures governments are taking all around us;
Family and Friends
Amidst this COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, many countries have implemented their own forms of lockdown and quarantine which involves the suspension of regular work and travel. Meaning that many individuals and families are now in their homes, away from work and colleagues, making them more dependent on social media for communication, information and entertainment.
Families and their extensions are now making time to communicate more through social media apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Tik Tok and Snapchat because they can no longer meet personally.
Colleagues and Business
On a business perspective, many businesses that have the capacity to conduct work from home. Others that have not tried it are engaging in it now. The usage of apps such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business have spiked over the last month because of imposed quarantines. So has the creation of Facebook Community Groups to stay connected with customers.
All these businesses would not have been able to conduct business and would either be forced to halt. Or worse yet, close their doors for good just couple of decades ago.
It is now a time for businesses to reevaluate where they are at and find ways to get creative with customer touch points and think about ways they can be proactive. A businesses’ website is even more important now than it has been before, as it is a communication tool for their customers, prospects and visitors. Content, website speed and performance, as well as making sure all computer systems and pages are up and running with quality content and top functionality. This can be a time to review your About Pages, your social media pages and content, and take a close look at the product and service pages and refresh the messaging and positioning.
This is key to keeping the communication lines open and available during uncertainty and tough times. It helps reduce bounce rates, keep customers engaged and make sure they know you are committed to continued support of your products and services. It is a time to revisit your 2020 goals, and ensure you are positioning your business to reflect the quality of your products and services.
Depending on the tools being used, their capacities/outputs may be slightly reduced. But thanks to the aforementioned remote tools and services that companies provide, businesses can still make informed decisions and keep the economy going. Since the coronavirus crisis began, management, staff and businesses may feel less connected in person, but at least all are able to use technology to keep some of their business afloat.
For those who need to adapt with more time at home, and away from their families, social media has provided many avenues for those with the same interest. Twitter, YouTube, Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages and even Tik Tok are quite active during this coronavirus crisis. Strangers with the same interests are actively connecting right now with video support groups by providing words of encouragement., advice and assistance.
Overall, thanks to today’s business and technology, the coronavirus crisis connects people who have the same wish; the crisis coming to an end.
But in the meanwhile…
What Can We Do as a Business?
Be Resourceful, Creative and Proactive
One of the most powerful tools we can use in business is reframing.
We use it in 2 primary ways.
- To help us solve the right problem.
- And to take an existing innovation and apply it in a more valuable way.
There is often a missing part to problem solving. Idea generation is common and most people are good at coming up with ideas to solve a problem. Problem finding is the ability to think creativity about the problem itself and ask better questions. This has been vastly understudied. Understanding the problem we are trying to solve and seeing it in a different way is not as common.
The Elevator Problem
Think about how often we go into an elevator and how slow most elevators are. What do you think the problem is? Well, most people would say the elevator is slow, so we need to figure out to make the elevator go faster and work with an engineer. This is taking the problem for granted. But, in reality, if take time to observe, the problem we need to solve isn’t a slow elevator, but to solve for people’s impatience. How about put mirrors inside the elevator? Then, all of a sudden, people become distracted and don’t really think about how slow the elevator is anymore. This is an example of how to reframe a problem and provide a solution to a different problem that you may not have discovered before.
You can find better solutions by asking better questions about the problem you are trying to solve.
2 Ways That Most People Try to Solve a Problem
- Delve into the details
- Try to look for some creative part of the system to make it faster, such as spreading out when people take the elevators in a building.
We need to step back and see what else we can see within the problem itself. We need to find a way to look at the problem from a different perspective.
Tide vs. Wisk
Wisk came out with the first liquid laundry detergent. They had great market share until Tide came along and also started making liquid detergent. What Tide did differently to maintain market share for over 30 years, was reframe the problem. They realized that people were complaining about “ring around the collar”, so they launched an entire campaign not around cleaning clothes, but getting the ring out of the collar.
This is a time to really understanding customer problems. Examine them and see if it is worth reframing for your business
- Make it a rapid practice in your business and think about problems often and frequently. Don’t wait until a crisis or problem occurs. Always rethink your goals and intention for your business and be proactive. If a customer says “I want a green button on my website”. Instead of asking where, ask why they want it. What is their intent, motive and goal. Do the same for yourself in your business.
- Recruit others, verses thinking through the problem(s) alone. That way, you are not stuck in your blind side. By working with others, you are able to talk about more angles.
- Ask better questions. Find out if someone else has dealt with the problem. How did they cope? Create a survey to better understand your customers. Have you solved the problem before? Some people already know the answers to the problems. They just need guidance on finding the answers.
3 Steps to Combating Business During the Coronavirus Crisis
- As a business, start by asking “What is the problem we are trying to solve?” Stay out of solution mode for now.
- Step back: is there a different way of thinking about the problem? Is there another way you can help as a business?
- Execution: don’t be afraid to build a prototype, test and validate with your audience via a survey, in-person meetings, video conference calls, community groups, etc.
Sometimes, it is just a matter of changing the way we study the problem. This is often where our best business ideas come from that can make a huge difference for your customers to build trust, empathy and connection.
“The most series mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions”. ~ Peter Drucker