Going against the survival instinct: Prioritising innovation through pandemic recovery

Going against the survival instinct Prioritising innovation through pandemic recovery

By Katie Yang

The COVID pandemic has challenged many businesses. However, challenges can also lead to new opportunities. For the past eight months, the pandemic has accelerated several market trends and incubated innovations in a number of different industries.

You may ask: What does this mean for my business, and how can I strengthen my business’s competitive advantages through innovation?

Innovation and growth opportunities from the pandemic

According to a survey conducted by McKinsey, 90% of managers think that COVID will fundamentally change the way they work. Approximately 75% of these managers also believe that there are huge growth opportunities across difference industries resulting from the changes brought on by the pandemic.

Yet innovation is ignored by most companies as they prioritise short-term issues, such as efficiency and organisational health. Only a few executives are confident about their companies’ capacities in capturing opportunities and cultivating new growth.

Let’s have a look at the pioneers in COVID innovations, who provide some insight into how to make the most of challenging times.

Innovators that have emerged through COVID

Affected by lockdown policies and social-distancing restrictions, people can no longer visit museum as they did before. In response, some famous museums – such as Paris Louvre Museum and New York Metropolitan Museum – have utilised VR technology to offer virtual tours and field trips options to the public.

To improve the efficiency of COVID testing and reduce the pressure on hospitals, the Australian government is researching how to train dogs to perform the test, while the South Korean government developed and implemented the drive-through test option.

McKinsey identifies several changes that will have substantial impacts on organisations’ competitive advantages, including: rapid changes of customer behaviour, needs for new product/service offerings, an influx of competitors from different industries, and shifts of sales models.

Organisations that are willing to invest in innovation to move forward will have a 30% greater opportunity to gain advantages and nourish growth over their competitors in the coming five years.

Capturing innovation and growth opportunities

After recognising the importance of innovation under the current economic situation, what can we now do to capture these opportunities?

Inspired by World Economic Forum, here are my thoughts:

  • Revisit your organisational purpose and objectives – redefining your goals in response to the current economic and market needs
  • Work closely and communicate with people in your organisation to develop innovation and change initiatives
  • Drive a strong innovative culture, supporting by performance evaluation and rewards policies
  • Invest in innovation talent and encouraging prudent risk-taking, such as testing new ideas and learning from unsuccessful experiences
  • Maintain communications with your customers and adopt an outside-in approach to generate innovative ideas and explore opportunities
  • Utilise technologies to encourage new ideas and connect with the market, i.e. using digital board for design thinking sessions, conducting video interviews with your customers
  • Celebrate small wins with your teams

Innovation provides a strong force to grow your business. Nonetheless, the balance between achieving organisational objectives and capturing new growth should be considered.

Cultivating innovations that are true to your core business and are sustainable, instead of merely pursuing innovation while forgetting about your organisational purpose, will give you the most benefits.

How is your organisation making the most of the recent growth opportunities?


By Katie Yang
Social Impact I Strategy and Innovation I Human Resource I Consultant



  • Bar Am, J. , Furstenthal, L., Jorge, F. and Roth, E., June 2020, Innovation in a crisis: Why it is more critical than ever, McKinsey & Company.
  • Balamatsias, G, March 2020, Social Innovation in the times of COVID-19, Social Innovation Academy.
  • World Economic Forum, June 2020, COVID-19: 3 ways businesses can find growth opportunities during the crisis

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