When the impossible becomes possible


Eric Ries

While the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired creativity and ingenuity, New York Times best-selling author Eric Ries said people should not wait for a crisis to be innovative.

Ries, an entrepreneur and creator of the Lean Startup methodology, was one of the speakers at the recent Digicom Omni 2020, organized by Manulife Philippines and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines. The conference discussed how professionals and businesses could harness innovation to respond to today’s challenges.

He addressed an exclusive session hosted by Manulife for its select customers, business partners, agents and employees.

Richard Bates, Manulife Philippines president and chief executive officer, said innovation should focus on how to make things better for consumers, as he pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic “changed how we live our lives from day to day.”

Ries, who launched recently the Long Term Stock Exchange, the first and only national securities exchange built to serve companies and investors who share a long-term vision, acknowledged that the current global health crisis created some good times for entrepreneurs and presented new opportunities.

COVID-19, Ries said, caused disruptions but it also showed how quickly things could change and how people could adapt to the changes.

“Necessity made the impossible, possible,” he said.

The pandemic opened “many, many new opportunities. And that’s what entrepreneurship is all about,” Ries said.

But Ries also stressed, “It’s wrong to think that innovation comes only because of a problem or a crisis.”

People do not need a problem to innovate, he said. Many products, he noted, were developed even before there were specific problems to address.

“Innovators are problem-solvers,” he said. He encouraged his audience to be innovators as they had an obligation to pay it forward and make things better for the future generation.

Ries encouraged companies to make innovation part of the management system and create their own disruptions rather than be put in a position where they had to adopt somebody else’s. The best-selling author also pointed out that “innovation is not really just about technology,” which could be confusing and complicated for some people. But Ries also warned his audience that disruptions caused by innovations could cause the loss of civic values. He thus encouraged them “to build an institution that your children can be proud of.”

At the end of his talk, he told his audience to go back to their offices and start thinking about innovations and disruptions they could create. “Don’t go back to your jobs and do business as usual.”

Bates said the pandemic prompted businesses from all industries to fast-track digitalization to continue operating and serving customers. “Manulife is always looking for avenues to cultivate a culture of innovation where it operates and does business, so every day we can help customers live better.”

The five-day Digicom Omni featured the world’s leading voices in digital, marketing and leadership. Other speakers were Seth Godin, marketing guru and author of 19 best-selling books and Seth’s Blog, one of the most popular blogs in the world; Angela Duckworth, author of “Grit” and founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit organization that aims to advance the science and practice of character development; Rishad Tobaccowala, author of “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data” and senior adviser to the Publicis Groupe; and John Maeda, technologist, designer, and chief experience officer of Publicis Sapient. —CONTRIBUTED INQ

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