How to Innovate in a Downturn

By Tom Carmona
October 25, 2022

Background image generated by DALL-E AI model with “innovation recession” prompt

“The resource scarcity that typically accompanies recessions forces innovators to do things they should have been doing already”
-Scott Anthony

So, corporate leadership is trying to cut unnecessary spending during a downturn and you’re wondering how your innovation team and initiatives will fare. This is not an uncommon situation to be in, but this is little comfort if your team is on the proverbial chopping block. What can innovation leaders do? Ideally, you will engage leadership to align your efforts with corporate priorities, thereby signaling the long-term benefit of keeping innovation programs afloat. Also, some uncomfortable introspection may be necessary to cut lower-value initiatives where you can, and this heightened discipline will likely pay dividends when the next downturn comes and you can advocate for innovation more effectively.

Here We Go Again

Explain the common problem of cutting innovation during a downturn

(Re)aligning With Corporate Priorities

Explain how to do this and why

Re(affirming) the Long-Term Need to Innovate

It’s a two-way street…they need to align with innovation just as much as the other way around

Cut Where You Can (and Should’ve Long Ago)

Explain how to identify these things to prune

Think Big, Think Small, Think Differently?

Talk about when simple, affordable solutions might make sense to weather the storm and even gain market share. Talk about the wisdom in swinging for the fences with moonshots, and why now is a good time for that. Talk about how you can position your firm as part of bold strategic moves during a downturn as opposed to merely a cost to be trimmed.


Talk about crafting a more recession-proof operation for the long haul so you won’t have to scramble with every boom and bust cycle.


Brad Holiday is founder of ID8 and I’m told he’s also a strong swimmer.





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