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This is the second in a series exploring Dr. Kristen Lee’s (Northwestern University) nine lessons in personal and collective fortitude. Seen through the lens of a business operation, each lesson has application in the current health and economic challenges, and for successful endeavors in the future.

For years, fitness experts have been telling us that stressing our muscles makes them stronger. When we hit a fitness plateau, we’re told to challenge ourselves. Run a little farther, lift a little more weight, change our routine. That change is inevitably painful, but our bodies adapt. And after the discomfort, they are improved – faster, stronger, more resilient.

The same principle applies to the “fitness” of a business. A successful enterprise often falls into routine habits of doing business, just like a fitness plateau. Innovation and creativity are set aside in favor of “business as usual.”

Today’s economic challenges can seem like a too-heavy lift, unless we think of them as an opportunity for improvement. We have a chance to break out of the routine, dust off our creativity, and invent new strategies for business success. Consider some of the new ways you might do business:

  1. Make telecommuting a permanent part of your operations. Support teleworkers with electronics and remotely-accessed imaged documents. You’ll reduce the number of workers in the office and keep that ideal 6-foot separation.
  2. Re-shape your facility’s interior to accommodate social distancing.Condense your documents and supplies into a high-density storage system that reduces storage space and provides more area for personal space.
  3. Establish additional services or products to bolt on to your current ones. For example, add delivery to manufacturing, as many restaurants have. Or add installation to design, as some interior-fixtures companies are planning.

This period in our history may feel like an enforced “time-out.” But like switching up our fitness routines, today we have an opportunity to apply our innovative instincts, do something different, make a change, and grow stronger. Break out your business imagination!

 

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