Never Waste a Crisis

Endeavor Webinar Series:

Insights by Taddy Hall

Continuing its webinar series aiming to support its network in navigating through the crisis caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, Endeavor invited Taddy Hall, Senior Partner at Lippincott and an Endeavor mentor and innovation expert, to guide entrepreneurs through the necessary steps to find opportunities in a middle of a crisis, take action and leverage their businesses.

Taddy focused on the opportunities that arise for entrepreneurs during these times and on the importance of identifying, prioritizing and executing on them. He gave some unique examples of companies that have thrived during uncertain times in the past and he offered entrepreneurs advice on how to win customers by giving new meaning to their lives. According to Taddy, “Crisis is a wonderful opportunity for entrepreneurs. The world as we know it is dissolving, but ahead lies a new world.”

Opportunity: Especially in emerging markets

“It’s not a time for deep conceptual thinking, it’s really about how do we get things done. Nobody is surprised by the magnitude of this impact; it truly is unprecedented” said Taddy. According to the expert, the economy is experiencing a COVID whiplash that is heavily impacting both the U.S. and Latin America. There is a tremendous amount of economic pain, along with the healthcare pain that people are suffering.

Taddy also referred to a recent research he conducted along with his team, that examined whether consumers around the world want to get back to their lifestyle before the virus hit or what has been happening has helped them reassess what truly matters to them. The research showed that most countries were leaning more towards the second option and especially developing markets, such as Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, were embracing this change.

Thriving amidst uncertainty

“Uncertainty and change really does favor entrepreneurs because we are not as attached to established capabilities and ways of doing things that are difficult to change. We are nimble, we are fast, we thrive on opportunities that maybe our larger competitors can’t act on. As Virgil said, “Fortune favors the bold”.” explained Taddy.

“Crisis is a wonderful opportunity for entrepreneurs. The world as we know it is dissolving, but ahead lies a new world.”

“Every crisis is different, but business response is predictable. A great example of how powerful the advantage is, comes from the small number of companies and leaders that take bold steps in crisis, invest, and grow. The companies that accelerated during the great recession of 2008, were the ones that invested in new growth options instead of just cutting costs. Booz & Company similarly found that the 100 most innovative companies spend even more on R&D during a recession, while others were stalling. In the long run, these investments are paying off in profitability & growth.” He added

The expert pointed out that businesses thrive when they create new meaning in peoples’ lives. It’s the source of meaning that each organization shares with its stakeholders.  “When you think about innovation, what we really do when we innovate, when we create new products and services is we create new meaning in customers’ lives. We call those companies that do this well, Go-to brands.”

According to Taddy, Go-to Brands are the brands that consumers seek out, care about, consult with, open up to and feel heard by. They create connection, enable valuable progress in peoples’ lives and help people personally in ways that are meaningful. “These are the brands that do, not just say. Brands that empower people and make their lives better.” he explained.

Connection and progress

Taddy stated that companies need to create experiences that generate both great progress in the lives of customers and also connection. “You need to outperform financially, you need to deliver on both of these pillars: Progress, which is really a function of working like magic, and advancing my world. The latter is actually how you manage to make customers feel connected, feel meaningfully to the things that really matter in the world.” he advised.

“The companies that accelerated during the great recession of 2008, were the ones that invested in new growth options instead of just cutting costs.”

According to Taddy, the four pillars for delivering connection and progress are:

  1. Be true to the customer: Know your target customers really are, share their values and reflect their realities and aspirations.
  2. Show you care: Focus instinctively on how to create value for customers, while always having their interests at heart vs. extracting value from them
  3. Work like magic: Reset expectations for how things should work, to put users effortlessly in control.
  4. Advance customers’ world: Solve the big problems customers care about and the little ones they have not yet noticed, and connect them meaningfully to others

“If customers are pulling you into their lives, either personal or professional ones, it’s because you are bringing meaning into their lives.” Taddy suggested. According to the innovation expert, connection and progress are the keys to creating meaning and value with customers. And when connection and progress reinforce each other, a brand becomes resilient and builds the goodwill needed to withstand potential missteps made in times of crisis.

At the same time, “Brands that do deliver on progress and connection for their customers grow dramatically faster than their peers and are substantially more profitable.” he explained. These brands manage to engage with customers and create deep connections with them by showing that they care. “While it’s becoming harder to become a Go-to brand, the prize is bigger for those that succeed.” He added.

“If customers are pulling you into their lives, either personal or professional ones, it’s because you are bringing meaning into their lives.”

Taddy urged entrepreneurs to think about how they have been doing so far on these two dimensions and what they can do to become a go-to brand. “As your customers’ needs have fundamentally changed, they help you solve the right problems for now” he explained.

Enabling progress vs selling products

Taddy also introduced an approached innovation he has developed along with his colleagues. According to the expert, they identified the causal mechanism of innovation success that lies on the big shift from selling products to enabling progress. “This requires a mindset shift from thinking about products and their attributes, features and functionality, to thinking about a job to be done. In other words, it comes to thinking about the progress that you are actually enabling in your customers’ lives and how are you connecting with them emotionally and socially.” he explained.

Taddy defined ‘job’ as the progress that an individual seeks in a given circumstance, whether it’s an individual or a business context. “Companies don’t buy stuff – people buy stuff. So you need to understand the basis in which customers are making their decisions. Not just the decision criteria but what are they actually trying to accomplish in their lives. In other words, you need to ask yourselves, what progress and experience is the person seeking?” he said.

He also defined innovation data by pointing out that “Stories are the data behind the numbers”. According to him, stories are the raw data required for innovators to understand how it is that individual people weigh options, make tradeoffs and achieve progress in their lives. “Successful innovators are overwhelmingly great story tellers.” He explained.  

Taddy encouraged entrepreneurs to think of their product as a service and think about what is the progress that their product is enabling. When we flip our mindset from thinking about products to thinking about customers’ Jobs be Done, we realize that all products are pulled by customers into their business or personal lives to enable them to make progress. At the same time, when we see our products actually as services, services that enable this progress, we get much closer to the way that our customers experience our products in their lives.” Said the expert.  

Facing new circumstances

Taddy also focused on the new circumstances many people face today. For example, people are seeking connection with their friends but they cannot physically be with anyone, they want to know if they are sick but they don’t want to risk going to the doctor’s office, they try to maintain their active lifestyle but they are not able to go to the gym and they are overall trying to maintain normalcy, despite a drastic change to their life.

“Successful innovators are overwhelmingly great story tellers.”

According to Taddy, the new jobs that have come out of the new situation, have led to three very different types of behaviors and lasting effects:

Forced adaptation builds and evolves the sense of community according to Taddy. Research has shown that 88% of consumers expect new formed connections to stay intact long after the virus is contained. At the same time, willing adoption creates new markets, as 98% of workers would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their career and 7% of U.S. firms offer telecommuting. Lastly, shifted priorities stimulate market mainstays, as 55% of consumers are expected to prioritize more time with family, learning and DIY.

But how, in the midst of a crisis, can one determine which new behaviors will truly last for years to come? According to Taddy, one way is to use the Jobs to be Done technique to interview people on new or switching behaviors. “When interviewing people, you will find folks whose stories suggest innovation opportunities” he explained.

Finally, Taddy advised entrepreneurs to identify the specific Jobs to be Done that they are motivated and capable of performing. At the same time, he suggested that they evaluate their brand against connection and progress and urged them to think about how both their current and potential customers have developed new habits. After all “Companies are suffering the way that people are suffering”.

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