When a Crisis Becomes an Opportunity

“When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters—one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.”  – John F. Kennedy

In times of great uncertainty, the first impulse is to be cautious. Yet, history has shown that those who follow through on new and bold ideas can become tomorrow’s innovators. The leaders who succeed are those that quickly reconcile what they can and cannot control, allowing them to effectively rise above challenging circumstances.

Issac Newton made some of his greatest contributions to math and science—including inventing calculus and deepening our understanding of gravity—while enduring long periods of isolation brought on by the plague. What could have been considered a frustrating moment in time, brought Newton to the forefront of leadership in math and physics.

Walt and Roy Disney launched Walt Disney Productions just as the United States was entering the Great Depression. As change-ready leaders, the brothers did not stop transforming. A few years later, Walt would go on to make a more daring move – he created Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first American feature-length animated film.

Walt saw an unmet need for sophisticated animation and storytelling and acted on that vision despite criticisms that the movie would be “Disney’s folly.” Snow White became an instant success in its 1937 debut and remains one of the most successful films ever made. And to this day, The Walt Disney Company continues to reinvent itself, producing products, experiences, and stories that become cultural touchstones.

More recently,  Airbnb, a  startup that has transformed the way we vacation, launched during the Great Recession. As the travel industry experienced a massive loss in revenue in early-to mid-2020, Airbnb pivoted once again. Going back to its core value of “Belong Anywhere,” the company brought the thrill of experiencing different cultures to people’s homes through Online Experiences. These interactive opportunities to cook, learn, and connect with people across the world enables Airbnb different ways to increase its earnings.

Disruptions can also benefit long-standing organizations. It is not an easy endeavor, and only 3% of public companies seek strategic transformations; yet, it is possible. Not too long ago, Netflix was mailing DVDs before it transformed into a leading content producer. While we still think of Amazon as a powerhouse in e-commerce, the company has been quietly amassing a profitable cloud services division.

Chances are your organization has considered diversifying its revenue streams when the future appeared more certain. Executives Unlimited has nearly 20 years of experience in recruiting strong CEOS, presidents, and board members who can help your company reach the next level of success even during uncertainty. We believe challenging times can create unique opportunities for companies to grow and become more resilient.