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Home > The seven stages of economic grief – when do you innovate?

The seven stages of economic grief – when do you innovate?

I was speaking with a client yesterday about an upcoming event in Palo Alto, California. We got to chatting about, obviously, the economic challenges that swirl around us, and the mindset that is quickly enveloping so many organizations.

Here’s what I think is going on: there are many organizations entering a state of absolute paralysis. Idea factories are being turned off. The result is that we’re not just entering an economic recession — we’re entering another idea recession, similar to what occurred with the last downturn starting in 2001.


What is so different time is the absolute speed with which ideas are shutting down — the paralysis in some organizations at the leadership level is absolutely stunning. This got me thinking about the fast paced events of the last few weeks in the context of the seven stages of grief.

I came to realize, things have happened so fast that many organizations still find themselves in the “shock” and “denial” phase. They’ll be the innovation laggards.

Then there are the innovation leaders. They’re prepared to keep the idea factory running, maybe not at full tilt, but running nevertheless. They know that despite the fact that vast sections of the economy are tanking, there are still growth markets; opportunities to step ahead of your competitors. There are opportunities to attack new markets. To streamline operations, build new brands, grab customer mindshare in new ways.

There are plenty of opportunities to turn ideas into innovation. It all depends on where you want to place yourself on the scale of the seven stages of economic grief.

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