COVID19 has kicked us “Out of Box” What now?

Within a span of couple of weeks, all of us find ourselves “Out of the Box,” kicked out by COVID 19. Even though we had some early warning, we stayed complacent as it was on the other side of the planet, forgetting that the World is Flat.

From the memory lane

One week after 9/11/2001, my former CEO at a small business called an emergency meeting of his board and specially invited a bunch of us thinking types from the R&D, asked “How will this event (9/11) change our business in next 3/12/24 months and what should we do?”  It was a scenario-based response exercise on steroids. We put together a list of top 10 actions, many of which were counter intuitive but still passed the sniff test. We made it through the economic downturn, that wiped some of our peer companies.

Reflecting back on that, today, I feel, myself in the same boat, inspired to apply proven method.

What Next?

When you find yourself Out of the Box, call on the Out of the Box thinkers. Who are these?


These are the 2.5% innovators in the organization. They are referred by various different names, such as – Trouble maker, Not a team player, Living in fantasy land, Academic, Always thinking, Show off, Wanting to be a hero, Does not understand business, Does not listen, … sometimes respectfully overwritten with statements such as, “That’s an out of box thinking, …. Let’s keep it for another day!”


Put this team through a ‘BurstInnovation’event – a short, sudden, and intense innovation effort to quickly resolve a challenging business or humanitarian situation’.It is characterized by a clearly defined specific objective and speed of execution.

These simple steps help execute with effectiveness and efficiency.

  1. Rapid Situation Analysis
  2. Clear Executive Charter
  3. Open Ideation
  4. Quick Concept Qualification
  5. Agile Execution Plan

The details are discussed in a prior blog post, graphically shown here.


Depending upon complexity of the situation and context, the burst innovation event could be 3-9 days, and will most likely generate some outrageous solutions. Some of them will require leadership from the gut, rather than data.

Remember you are out of the box. Good possibility is that the box got moved, crushed, deformed, or reformed. You may need to find a new box, or a path into the reformed box. You won’t find that with the same style that allowed you to play well within the original box.

So please embrace the new situation, requiring new line of thinking, and lets accept that for a while, it will be an “Innovators time to lead”

Further more…

Request a workshop on Burst Innovation at your facility.

Send an email to for a copy of the workbook along with Excel sheets to work through the process.

All profits from sale of any products or services toward COVID-19 recovery will be donated to the cause. We believe in sustainability.