Embrace the Opportunity for Change
Turning Challenge into Opportunity
As COVID-19 spreads across the world and the U.S., our companies and our lives are facing serious disruptions. Yet every day we get to make a choice. Do we regret what we cannot do, or do we embrace the opportunity to restructure, re-prioritize and refocus?
We have that opportunity both personally and within our organizations. In a recent article in Forbes magazine, contributing writer Chuck Swoboda suggests three accelerators that you and your company can turn challenge into opportunity.
1. Changes the risk/reward balance
In most organizations, decisions are based on some type of risk/reward analysis.
Is the potential gain enough to outweigh the risk of failure?
The challenge for most people is that, under normal circumstances, the fear of failure almost always overrules the argument for change. So companies are biased towards avoiding risk. This is to be expected when most organizations reward success and not trying and failing. But in a crisis, the dynamic shifts dramatically – the real risk becomes doing nothing.
When the status quo breaks down, there is almost no downside to taking a chance, and you’re better off trying something new.
A crisis helps people realize that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
2. Increases focus
Competing, and sometimes conflicting, priorities are a common problem that all organizations face. When your back is up against the wall, you stop spreading your focus and instead direct all of your attention to the one problem that really matters. This focus is an extremely powerful tool that can give ordinary people the ability to do the extraordinary.
A crisis enables people to eliminate distractions and push toward a common goal in a way that makes failure not an option.
3. Identifies leaders
Companies are filled with managers who have good intentions but are often not able to convince themselves to take a risk. They are part of a culture that rewards hitting your goal, not taking on challenges that might not be possible to solve. They accept boundary conditions for what they are: limits on what’s possible. But you can’t manage your way out of a crisis; you have to lead. It requires people focused on solving problems.
A crisis gives leaders the opportunity to step up and a license to ignore the status quo in pursuit of something better.
An Opportunity: Changing the Way You Think About Liquid Sugar
This crisis will no doubt cause many difficulties for people, but it will also create opportunities for innovation across many industries. Leading food companies are already convening task forces to generate new ideas required to negotiate the days ahead to address both supply change risk and the new demands of a changing marketplace.
Sugaright has been supplying liquid sugar to innovative food companies for ten years.
When we brought a darker color liquid sugar to the market place, “status quo” companies saw it as too risky, sometimes ignoring their own internal R&D data proving that a color specification change would have no sensory impact on their finished products.
On the other end of the spectrum, companies that welcome and reward change immediately embraced the new option as a way to achieve sustainability goals and to realize cost savings.
Now that refined sugar is getting more expensive in the U.S., it is time to leverage this problem and turn it into an opportunity by accepting the new normal of less processed darker colored liquid sugar as an acceptable alternative to water white options. This change in ingredient specification not only offers cost savings in an inflationary environment, but it also can also increase refinery output due to the need for less processing.
Mr. Swoboda says it well:
“This is time for people to take more risks, focus on what really matters, and embrace the opportunity to lead."
As we begin to look forward to the lessening of lock-down orders, we will all be facing a "new normal". Hopefully our new reality will include a laser focus on what really matters and a welcome embrace of change that improves our lives and our companies.