Crises Are The Best Times To “Reverse Everything” And Find A Better Way Forward?

During this crisis period filled with uncertainty and disruption, you might pause, step back and turn lemons into lemonade. There probably isn’t much else you can do. If we at SAMC could help you now, it would be to urge you to take some time to use Innovation Games® to bring those big, new ideas to the forefront of your thinking about yourself, your business and your future. In fact, Andy and I recently did an On The Brink podcast about how Innovation Games are a very effective way to not only help you look into the future and rethink where your organization is going, but also figure out how to get there. You can listen to it here.

Andy and I are trained practitioners in Innovation Games. We went to Brussels in 2011 to study with a dozen Europeans, all of whom spoke multiple languages. What we learned was how language diversity is critically important to thinking in different ways. We were glad they spoke English reasonably well as we watched each of us come up with different ideas to solve problems. People with totally different life experiences shared their creative perspectives around the Innovation Games platform. We learned the games in person and the interactions were invaluable.

Today, we lead Innovation Games with clients, and they work very well as long as the participants get into “gaming” mode. These aren’t video games. And there aren’t avatars battling to win the war of your manufacturing company. But they are great to use with your teams as you are trying to reconfigure how to thrive in whatever emerges from this pandemic economic crisis we find ourselves in right now.

You can learn a lot more about Innovation Games on our website and in this presentation.

For this blog, however, I would like to show you how to use one game that we find extremely helpful. It enables people to rethink their worlds today and create new ideas about the future. We have used this game with everyone from boards of large companies to faculty at universities, from nurses in healthcare to folks working on a new project. The game is called “Reverse Everything.” By reversing everything you believe in today, you can find all kinds of new ways to do things, tomorrow. The ideas are in your mind already. They just need a platform on which to pop out—and they usually love to pop out. 

Here is how “Reverse Everything” works

For you and your company, list everything you do today or used to do before the pandemic disrupted you. List some of the things you “didn’t” do yesterday as well. Then, write down the opposite: things you used to do that you don’t anymore. Things you never did that you are going to do lots of in the future. It’s a game so don’t get too frustrated by it. It pushes you into a new territory where you must go if you are going to rebuild your future with new ideas and innovative solutions.

Here is a format to try:

reverse everything2
Once you have that all set up, let the new ideas emerge

Here are two examples. The first is a restaurant. Let’s assume that restaurants will have to focus on reinventing themselves after social isolation. We are curious about what will happen. We might all go back to eating out after the pandemic is moderated, if not conquered. But it wouldn’t hurt those restaurants to give some thought to all types of revenue streams that are possible whether they reopen, or don’t.

The restaurant industry was already struggling with consumer behavioral changes before COVID-19 arrived. People weren’t coming in as often and lunch crowds were, well, not crowds at all. Some restaurants were joining up with Spacious and Spring Place to use their space for freelancers to work, as shared workspace before dinners were served.

For you, use this as an illustration of what a restaurant owner might do now. Now is the time to rethink the role of a chef, a waitress, a restaurant space and all the accoutrements around it. To illustrate this for you, here is the Reverse Everything game we played with a friend of ours who has several restaurants that are closed right now.

reverse everything3
Once you have the opposites, it is time to think about new ideas. Here are some, and you can add your own:

reverse everything4
The chart below is one we did for our own organization, Simon Associates Management Consultants. Our positioning is that we are corporate anthropologists who help organizations change. SAMC also has to adapt to the new world that may come out of the virus response. So, we played Reverse Everything. Here are our ideas. You might have others for us to consider as well.

reverse everything4
While everything seems to be changing now, it is just accelerating the transformation that was on its way beforehand

It seems like this is all new, but as we often quote John Seely Brown, “The way forward is all around you, if only you can see it.”

Perhaps you need some help in thinking about your future. We can set up a remote Innovation Games session with you and your team. Together you will find some great ideas emerging from the changes we are facing now. Think about how:

  • Remote workers need new ways to meet, stay accountable and collaborate.
  • Supply chains are being transformed. How will this impact yours?
  • Could blockchain help you streamline your services as the crisis recedes?
  • Do you need the office space you thought was so necessary before the disruption?
  • Maybe it is time to think about a new way to price your services. Think about how to set a price and pull out costs to get a margin. It might allow you to reopen a large market space and reduce your expenses.
  • It may be a great time to eliminate things that you have been wanting to change for a long time. Nothing like a little crisis to get your folks to agree to stop doing things that no longer add any value.

It is a time when everything is ready to be rethought

Go ahead. No one is holding you back but you.

For more on how to change after a crisis hits (or even before), we recommend the following podcast and blogs:

Ready to Reverse Everything so you can tackle the future? Let’s talk

At Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC), we are Blue Ocean Strategists® and culture change experts who specialize in helping companies change and adapt in these fast-changing times. Contact us to discuss how our team of specialized corporate anthropologists and business change management advisors can suggest ways you and your business can change to weather today’s many challenges (and crises) and achieve even greater success. We look forward to hearing from you.

From Observation to Innovation,

Andi Simon, Ph.D. Corporate Anthropologist

Andi Simon, Ph.D.
Corporate Anthropologist | President
Simon Associates Management Consultants

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