There is value in disruption. When we are told "Wait" or "Not yet," then we must pause. It is frustrating as heck, but it ultimately provides valuable time. My husband and I recently found ourselves in the trifecta of all interruptions in Philadelphia: the Covid-19 quarantine, social protests, and a power outage.
Adapting to quarantine (face masks, Zoom, and all) was something we believed that we had mastered. And then came the blow of George Floyd's murder by police in Minneapolis. My husband and I are African Americans. A physical aching, which I now call "resilience fatigue," came over us.
One glimmer of hope following Floyd's murder has been the diversity of people engaged in the social protests. In Philadelphia, dealing with social unrest is in our water. Whether you think of the hot and stinky summer of 1787 when the U.S. Constitution was hammered out, or the police bombing of the MOVE residences in 1985, Philadelphia has the legacy of the Quakers' nonviolent peace testimonies hovering in our collective consciousness.
But then, to top everything off, a strange and violent storm, called a "derecho," wreaked havoc in our neighborhood, leaving us without power for three days.
As an entrepreneur and creativity strategist, I find incredible utility in an opportunity for such a pause. Days of uncertainty are designed for creativity. Both hindsight and foresight are required to gain insight. Downtime can prompt introspection and reflection. It requires us to redesign our relationship with time. Pausing is a unique requisite for creativity, which I define as our ability to toggle between wonder and rigor to solve problems. Pausing generates wonder.
Creativity loves constraints, and it relishes messiness. This extremely messy moment in American society requires tremendous healing. That means there is incredible opportunity for business owners to implement the 3R's of creativity:
Now more than ever, the business return on investment of creativity will be the lighthouse that helps you steer back to shore. It may feel counterintuitive, but creativity is a not a luxury. It is an imperative. Here's a closer look into the 3R's of creativity:
Restore inventive thinking.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and creativity sparks invention. In moments of pause, you can question the ways you have done things and look for new workarounds. Take for example, Philadelphia's own Harriet's Bookshop's effort to give away books in the midst of the social protests--and now its business is on an uptick. Inventive thinking in your business will lead to novel business models, which will uncover different strategic partnerships and activities, and lead to new revenue streams.
Reorient through collaboration.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been the canary in the coal mine. It is now the platform upon which real collaboration can occur. Similarly, in your own business, the more diverse the inputs, the more innovative will be the output. As goes the African proverb: "Alone, faster; together, farther." Collaboration is hard to do in the short term. This is because we have to translate all our jargon from people in different departments and listen intently.
Reboot to obsess on customers.
A colleague sadly said to me recently that "in many ways, pausing is counter to business." Well, then it's time to reboot and revise the way we do business. Once you have finished restoring and reorienting, prioritize one focus area that will benefit your customers. Use the pause to observe more externally. Become customer obsessed. When we focus in on the needs of the people buying our products and services, then we ultimately deliver higher value, which often translates into greater sales and brand resonance in the marketplace.
This pause is the opportunity to act on the business value of creativity.