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3 Ways an Organization Can Turn a Crisis into an Opportunity to be Better, Stronger, and More Innovative.

August 27, 2020 at 7:15 AM

At some point, every organization faces a major event that tests its “bouncebackability”.

As the world grapples with the effects of COVID-19, it’s easy for an organization to slip into survival mode and concentrate purely on keeping the ship afloat. Enterprising business leaders, however, are able to apply a “cup half full” approach to challenging situations. While such leaders deploy a company’s crisis management plan, they also keep an eye on ways to affect post-traumatic growth.

As an example, enterprises around the world are coping with the major disruption of suddenly having to practice social distancing and to rely on a remote workforce. Instead of viewing this new reality as an obstacle, an agile organization will be willing to embrace the moment as a rare opportunity to innovate, streamline operations, and adopt new technologies, perhaps in a way that would not have been possible under usual circumstances.

During a watershed moment, an organization must also remember to commit to strategic investment. Pragmatic businesses know that they have to balance cost-cutting with continued investment into the company to sustain its growth, support recovery, and remain competitive.

Below are three smart ways companies can take a period of crisis and use it as an opportunity to initiate positive changes with their organization:

1. Invest in the right tech and people resources

A crisis can act as a stress test showing areas of weakness where an organization needs to make high-impact adjustments or small refinements. Improvements can include anything from bolstering cyber security, to upgrading team building and leadership development practices.

What’s vital is that an organization makes sure to have the most skilled employees in place to execute a robust recovery and sustain future growth. During a crisis period it’s common for companies to invest in upskilling and workplace mentoring as ways to deepen learning and development and extend skills and knowledge within an existing workforce. This can save cost by curtailing the need to hire on new people, while also functioning as an employee retention strategy.

Testing, exploring and incorporating new technology also presents the potential to automate operations where possible for increased efficiency and reduced cost.

2. Develop new and innovative products and services

All products and services exist to solve a problem. A crisis often presents the opportunity for proactive people and companies to introduce innovations that fill an immediate need. This can open up new revenue streams and access to previously untapped customer channels that extend a company’s bottom line for years to come.

Two examples of market responses to the COVID-19 pandemic include beer and spirits manufactures who switched to producing hand sanitizer and 3D printing shops which added production for ventilator parts or testing kits to their rosters. Other innovations that have come into existence as a direct response to adversity include tea bags for WWI soldiers and pre-cooked packaged foods that were distributed during the Napoleonic Wars.

3. Keep your brand relevant

During times of duress the public often watches how organizations they depend on respond to a crisis. They may want reassurance that a company is responsible, dependable, and proactive. Since how a company conducts itself during a sensitive time can have a long lasting positive or negative effect, it’s important that an organization remain engaged not only to keep its brand relevant, but out of a sense of social responsibility.

If a turbulent event is something that has the potential to lead to workforce reductions, investing in employee retention strategies is a wise choice. This commitment not only strengthens a company’s existing talent and better positions an organization for post-traumatic growth, it also broadcasts to current and future employees that you are an ethical employer who values people.

If you're currently trying to navigate the impacts of today's challenges on your talent strategy, we'd like to help. 

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Natasha DeJesus

Written by Natasha DeJesus

Natasha DeJesus is a Global DE&I Board Member at Wiley and Co-Chairs the Wiley Education Services DE&I Business Council. She is responsible for driving the DE&I enterprise strategy and is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace environment that enables colleagues to thrive and reach their fullest potential. Natasha is a Bronx, NY native and an alumnus of Colorado State University where she received her MS in Organizational Leadership.