The power of RE

There are two types of creativity. The first imagines something that has never before existed. The second puts a different lens on something so that the interpretation changes. That is the power of RE.

  • Re-use
  • Re-purpose
  • Re-assess
  • Re- imagine
  • Re-think
  • Re-focus
  • Re-examine
  • Re-assign
  • Re-invent
  • Re-deploy
  • Re-brand
  • Re-evaluate

RE is the most powerful tool available to us when we’re placed in a situation that forces us to adapt to a new environment. It questions what is and makes us change our perspective so we shift our outlook to what could be. Otherwise, we’d never question what is, we’d simply accept reality and be trapped by the confines and limitations of how people thought without taking into consideration any new information or environment.

All of these words make us look for new approaches, to think outside the proverbial box and find new ways to adapt to our ever changing environment. They transfer ideas from one place to another and create new applications for items. It is the form of creativity which businesses rely on to stop themselves from becoming outdated.

For example, if we look at COVID-19, businesses which were not flourishing in the unusual circumstances were faced with two problems:

  1. how to stay afloat
  2. how to protect staff

When it came to the first problem, there were two strategies depending on the industry and business. Either they could change how their products reached the customer or they could change the products being offered.

Yoga and cooking classes moved online and Airbnb started offering virtual experiences around the world in lieu of the ones people had planned as holiday experiences. Similarly, chefs began batch-cooking to deliver home cooked meals and greengrocers packaged up different tiers and types of fruit or vegetable boxes for people to pick from which were then delivered to doorsteps so that people didn’t need to worry about being exposed to crowds and the risk of contracting COVID.

Where the product was no longer in demand as people tightened the proverbial hip pocket, others re-examined the materials and skills they had. Formula 1 engineers transferred their skills in reverse engineering and speedy prototyping to assist in ventilator design while breweries and perfumeries utilised their equipment to create hand sanitisers. Similarly, pubs and cafes transformed into pop-up greengrocers and mini-supermarkets, focusing on the products they might normally get wholesale as ingredients for their own cooking.

When it came to staff, industries such as travel/aviation and entertainment were unquestionably the worst hit. But some companies got creative, forming new partnerships or redeploying staff into different areas of the business. Singapore Airlines cabin staff became care ambassadors in hospitals while McDonalds employees moved over to Aldi to assist in the one area of the food industry unable to meet demand. But it wasn’t just companies who repurposed people. There were countless stories of staff who had lost their jobs rebranding themselves as well. Entertainers became babysitters and set designers who translated their skills into designing standing desks and other pieces to help the newly emerged work from home workforce.

Whilst these examples are all of businesses adapting to COVID, this form of creativity can be used in any area of life. And the best news is, it’s something you can train your brain to do!

For example, try the following brainstorms writing as many ideas as come to your mind:

  1. All the skills you have
  2. All the values your company is built upon
  3. All the products you have
  4. All the machinery or infrastructure you have
  5. All the people you work with and the products and services they offer
  6. Different problems your customers may have mentioned in passing and whether there may be a way you can help them

Together, these brainstorms can help you identify new opportunities to think about how you can serve others.

The above is of course just one of many exercises that can help you think differently about opportunities you may miss. For more tools and strategies, feel free to get in touch for a chat!

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