I Should Have Thought Of That!

What do all these companies have in common? Disney, CNN, MTV, Hyatt, Burger King, FedEx, Microsoft, Apple, AT&T, IHOP, Eli Lilly, IBM, Merck, Hershey’s, Coors, Texas Instruments, Fortune, GE, and Hewlett-Packard. Can you guess? Well first of all they are all very successful companies right? All names that you recognize right? But no, that’s not it. That’s not the most important thing they have in common. Can you guess what it is? Give up?

They were all started in times of adversity, each one of these companies was founded during an economic recession. And each one of their stories proves the theory that “Chaos creates opportunity”.

Innovation is about creating an idea that fulfills an unmet need, and often people need urgency to spot those needs” from the great new book by Jeremy Gutsche, Create the Future: tactics for disruptive thinking.

So, who would have imagined a few months ago when we heard rumors about this strange new virus from China that we would in such a short time be where we are right now? Who could have imagined our world order changing so rapidly; restaurants closed, stores closed, product shortages, double digit unemployment, schools and colleges closed, people walking around in gloves and masks and newspapers touting the death count on a daily basis as though we were in a world war? It makes one realize what a fragile world we live in. Even in these times where we take pride in insulating ourselves with the security of insurance and good jobs and large portfolios…it can all be threatened or even disappear in just a few short weeks? Who knew at the turn of the new year, what 2020 would be like?

But if we do nothing else, we have to sum up our courage  look at the future with the clear eyed optimism that has characterized us as Americans, people who are proud to sing “we did it before, and we can do it again”

But, for a moment let’s move on and trade on another popular saying “It’s a shame to waste a good crisis”. And start doing what those great companies did before us in their own hard times. Find a way to innovate, find a new way to do things. If nothing else let it not be said that we wasted a good crisis.

Let’s take a look at the obvious needs of today. These are all markets that are going to change drastically because of the pandemic. Actually, some of them are changing as we speak, right before our very eyes; Medical electronics, Onshoring, Consumer Goods and shortages, Remote meetings, Medical Testing, Home schooling, New Product Introduction, Disinfectants, Online universities, Streaming, Strong broadband, Remote voting, Remote campaigning, Take out services, E-tailing, remote religious services, car buying, remote routine medical care, Elderly care, Municipal services, car registrations and more and more areas where we are already changing what we used to call standard operating procedures.

The thing to do is to look at everything that is changing and find a better way to not only change them but change them in a way that will be even better than the way we used to do…which ironically until now we thought was the best way.

These times are not for the faint of heart. These times are not for those who hate change, those who would rather fight than switch. No, these are times when innovation will rule, and great innovators will thrive. If you are a creative person this is your time. If you are one of those people who look at things the way they could be and say why not, this is your time.

“The old way of doing things” is the most powerful enemy of your culture.

Our job as innovators, as team leaders, as company leaders, is to study what is currently going on in the world today and do something about it. Capitalize on what we are seeing during this our own darkest hour and find ways on improving our lives only temporarily today but for the future as well. In fact, our job right now is to study the needs of today and match them with the solutions of tomorrow and by doing exactly that we may even come up with our own version of a change the world product.

As I look at the list of things that are changing right before our eyes I am tempted to look at one thing that is obvious as well as pertinent to our space of interconnect products and that is NPI, new product introduction. There has never been a better example of a time when we all needed very rapid new product introductions than right now. Just as the pandemic is fast moving, so is the need for fast-moving new product introductions in terms of medical electronics. Companies are frantically working on ways to produce better, cheaper and more effective ventilators, medical device disinfectant ovens, and testing devices. Who is going to design and build these devices…us that’s who, those of us in the electronics PCB and PCBA areas are the ones who have to support these new products. Are you prepared? Can you build products from schematic to reality in a matter of days? Well here’s a hint… a very broad hint. If you are the company that comes up with the fastest NPI time to market then the name of your company might join those names that I mentioned at the start of this column, instead of the one standing there ruefully saying…I should have thought of that? It’s only common sense.

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