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Agility and Curiosity: Two Crucial Characteristics Found In Businesses Best Positioned To Survive the Pandemic

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SurveyMonkey’s new report, Adapting in Times of Crisis 2020, highlights the impact of two key traits for businesses navigating a crisis

SurveyMonkey, a leader in agile software solutions for customer experience, market research, and survey feedback, announced the findings from Adapting in Times of Crisis 2020, a new research report identifying the top characteristics needed for companies to successfully navigate the pandemic: curiosity and agility.

The study polled nearly 4,000 Americans nationwide, including over 2,500 currently employed adults and nearly 1,800 who had hours cut or income reduced as a result of the pandemic. The findings illustrate key elements that have impacted companies’ ability to adapt during the current coronavirus pandemic. Agile companies—defined as companies that can adapt quickly to change in order to be successful—were positioned to outperform their peers in the study. Fifty percent of those surveyed at agile organizations say their company is extremely or very prepared to withstand an economic downturn, while only 10% at less-agile companies say they’re prepared.

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Agility seems to be in short supply in 2020, but curiosity is more abundant. According to the data, just 30% of employees say they are at the most agile companies. At the same time, 59% say they are at curious companies—those that use new and creative ways to adapt to changing circumstances. Alongside agility, being open to new ways of operating appears to give companies an advantage in meeting customer needs. More than seven in 10 (72%) employees at companies that value using creative ways to adapt to change have been able to meet customers’ needs during the pandemic, compared to just 44% of those that stick to tried-and-true methods.

“Resilience is a new requirement for businesses in 2020,” said Tom Hale, president at SurveyMonkey. “This research makes it clear that agility and curiosity are essential ingredients to survive and thrive during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. This is true for organizations ranging from early startups to mature enterprises in nearly every industry. No matter where you work, creativity and agility are solving problems and driving growth like never before.”

The report also includes profiles of companies and government organizations that illustrate the powerful impact of agility and curiosity on their success.

“Earlier this year as federal, state, and local governments began implementing lockdowns as a result of the coronavirus, we realized we had to quickly change our mindset and the way we were operating,” said Nina Herold, chief product and operations officer at TripActions, the corporate travel and expense management company profiled in Adapting in Times of Crisis 2020 while navigating a tremendous dip in worldwide business travel as a result of the pandemic. “Collecting and listening to our customer feedback and then acting on it with rapid innovation to solve customer needs has been critical to staying agile through this crisis and emerging as the industry leader.”

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Key findings of the report include:
  • Agile organizations are faring better during the coronavirus crisis:
    • 50% of employees at agile companies say their organizations are extremely or very prepared to withstand an economic downturn, as opposed to just 10% at less-agile companies.
    • Employees at agile companies are more than twice as likely to say their business is doing better since COVID-19 (28% vs. 12% of employees at less-agile companies), and less likely to say their income has been reduced or hours cut.
  • True value is found at the confluence of agility and curiosity:
    • Curious companies and organizations take action all or most of the time on feedback they gather at nearly twice the rate as companies that stick to tried-and-true methods (58% vs. 31%).
    • Employees at agile companies are more than twice as likely to say their company finds creative solutions to problems (69% vs. 37%).
  • Companies that gather feedback also take bold action:
    • Those that gathered feedback in response to the coronavirus made moves like:
      • Changing business strategy: 52%
      • Releasing updates or improvements: 48%
      • Developing new products or services: 30%
  • Agility and curiosity aren’t traits that are limited to small startups:
    • Among companies with 1,001+ employees:
      • 75% say they find creative solutions to challenges instead of sticking to tried-and-true methods.
      • 81% say they adapt very quickly or somewhat quickly to change in order to be successful.

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