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How a problem-solving approach can aid recovery from external events

By Englash Gooden
Sep 10, 2020
4 MIN. READ

The pandemic has shaken up entire industries. Here are three rules of thumb that our clients are using to successfully navigate through a changed world.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we have to adjust the aperture through which we view how organizations engage in the market. As the external shocks continue to pile up, businesses are struggling to understand the impact, know what needs to materially change, and determine how they can both recover and evolve.

We approach innovation as invested partners in our clients’ success. In recent months, we have observed our clients as they navigate a changed world. Three themes have surfaced in how they use problem solving to drive momentum and positive organizational change.

The old rules no longer apply, so get creative.

“Same old, same old” is not going to lead to success now that our environment and circumstances have undergone a seismic shift. Businesses that want to continue to thrive as the world is changing need to approach the market creatively. Organizations successfully navigating recent changes are breaking down each problem, looking for ways to push the boundaries of strategy and approach. Brands leveraging their team members’ and partners’ insights and experiences are staying focused on delivering fully integrated and seamless solutions, driving brand participation and results even while facing unprecedented obstacles.

Across multiple industries—hospitality, travel, healthcare, retail—companies are revisiting roadmaps with the intention of revising and resequencing their plans. In the travel industry, it has always been important to align the ebb and flow of travel with the comfort and safety concerns of guests. But the approach to realizing that alignment looks very different in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially compared to the plans from the start of this year. For example, we helped one client analyze the planned implementation of our loyalty platform, Tally®. We realigned the implementation approach and sequence of feature delivery to align to the organization’s new revenue-generating and cost-reduction needs. By breaking down the components of strategies, campaigns, and implementations—and rearranging their thinking—creative organizations are bringing winning approaches into focus.

Organization agility has never been more critical.

It has always been important to get the right messages and products to customers in order to drive engagement. Our clients are exploring ways to incrementally deliver value to their customers—many of whose needs have radically evolved due to the pandemic—while keeping costs low and capitalizing on the ideas of their talented team members. Our shared commitment to innovation, in outcome and approach, is accelerating value realization across our partnerships. With a basis of growth and Lean thinking, delivery teams are providing maximum value, incrementally.

In this fast-moving and changing environment, daily collaboration allows teams to increase their shutter speed and gain momentum without losing focus. Agile methodologies allow incremental delivery of features that enable our clients to interact with their customers at the right time and in the right manner. Working together as embedded teams, agility helps us prioritize key features to drive the appropriate campaigns in market.

Above all else, practice empathy.

All of our client partners are focusing on putting people first. In a time of uncertainty and rapid change, keeping the human connection at the center of decisions will lead to lasting strength and, in turn, loyalty. Customer centricity has been an aspirational guiding beacon for many companies for some time. But in the face of the pandemic, truly seeking to understand customers’ needs and easing their problems will keep the brand relevant and authentic.

In tandem with focusing on the customer, our partners are caring for their team members and doing all they can to keep their talent focused on driving value for their customers. Many of our clients are experiencing economic rebound and welcoming back furloughed workers. The successful organizations use empathy to navigate the resulting job evolutions and restructurings to support new ways of doing business with organizational change management support.

External events give us the opportunity to zoom in on what’s important.

When organizations face major disruptions driven by factors outside of their control, having an integrated partner can help them navigate and find solutions through the change. When external factors are pushing change quickly, skills critical to continual evolution include identifying and fixing problems quickly and leveraging behavioral insights. In an environment plagued by a pandemic, social unrest, and political change, turn to creativity, agility, and empathy to drive transformation, bring your work closer to the people you serve, and break through unexpected barriers.

ICF’s global marketing services agency focuses on helping your organization find opportunity in disruption.
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By Englash Gooden

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