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Navigating uncertainty while fostering innovation during COVID-19 and beyond.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created great uncertainty for businesses. The future is unclear and ambiguous. We cannot say with confidence when the pandemic will end, and we can only speculate what life will look like on the other side. There is no precedent for how to respond in the moment, much less looking to the future. 

At ABT, the primary question has become: How can we create new ways to push ahead intelligently in a crisis, and how can we extend that strategy to our clients? 

While many traditional patterns are broken anyways, now is a great opportunity to intentionally look at things differently, beyond where we are forced by current conditions. We are taking the opportunity to reflect and prepare for the future.

Who do we want to be when we emerge from the pandemic? How might we use this moment to strengthen the business for tomorrow?

Experiment today, be stronger tomorrow.

As the future holds drastic change, creativity is essential to push businesses to adapt and capitalize on a new normal. There has never been a more crucial time to experiment.

And experimentation doesn’t have to result in a full-scale transformation or polished new offering. Experimenting in a low-fidelity, quick-and-dirty way can help teams minimize investment and risk for a potentially high return.

Experimentation not only serves as a response to our current situation, but it can also help you stay ahead of the curve and prepare for change.

Things are not “business as usual” around here.

Recognizing that business was — and will likely continue to be — very different, our Experience team started asking ourselves: how can we challenge the fundamental assumptions about how we do business, interact with coworkers, and solve problems for our clients? 

We have incredibly smart, talented, and creative people here at ABT. Who better to take on these problems than the people closest to them? So we issued the challenge: 

How can we, as a company, find new ways to operate Business as Unusual

What does Business as Unusual mean?

The Business as Unusual Initiative – or BaU for short – is an initiative for our company as a whole to foster innovative ideas. The goal is to use this moment to challenge the fundamental assumptions of our business, our culture, and beyond. 

It is open to anyone who wants to participate, whether they have a fully formed idea or not. By seeking points of view that may normally go unheard, we can uncover opportunities and identify blind spots.

How to turn new ideas into action.

Using a human-centered design approach, we can provide the framework for sharing, nurturing, and developing ideas. They might be anything from better ways of serving our clients, to company culture or internal operational improvements.

In return for idea generation, the Experience team will provide workshops, brainstorming sessions, or whatever relevant method is needed to explore and grow the idea into an actionable plan. Then we ask: what are simple experiments we could run in the next few weeks?

Real-world examples of quick innovation.

No contribution is too big or too small. Pinterest, for example, rolled out a new feature “Today” in less than a week. It provides daily ideas to help people stay inspired while staying safe.

The United Nations has, for the first time, issued an open brief calling for creative solutions to the crisis.

Airbnb has launched Online Experiences that offer new activities for customers to do at home, which is also an alternative source of income for hosts. Their email announcing the offer read, “Let’s try something new together.” 

Experimentation helps us move forward.

Like everyone else, we are still figuring it out as we go. We don’t know what will gain traction or be adopted, but we do know that we will learn from all of them.

Every experiment is an opportunity for challenging the status quo, and we are ready and willing to try. We will be stronger for it in the future.  

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