The COVID-19 pandemic may have upended nearly everything about how we live and work, but it hasn’t stopped innovation.
While many people and businesses are struggling to stay afloat and work through their day-to-day issues, Lisa Bodell, founder and CEO of FutureThink, says there’s never been a better time to be innovative. She views COVID-19 as the great reset that has paved the way for innovative changes. Innovation is more important now than ever, but it requires a new approach in our new world.
COVID-19 can act as a catalyst for innovation and allow us to turn changes we were forced into by a global pandemic into productive and long-term changes in our organizations. Here are three ways to stay innovative in the age of COVID-19.
How we innovate is based on our assumptions. The key to strong innovation and being open to new ideas is to question the assumptions we’ve always had or that are part of society. For years, we’ve assumed certain things that are now being challenged. Many companies assumed they couldn’t have their employees work from home. But when they were forced to let go of those assumptions, they realized remote work can be effective for their teams. Questioning that assumption has allowed companies to create innovative remote work practices.
As you set out to innovate, question the assumptions you hold personally or within your organization. Ask yourself why you think a certain way and why things matter. Innovation comes when people are willing to find creative solutions and re-create norms.
When processes are inefficient or redundant, people can feel burnt out or too busy to innovate. The goal of simplicity isn’t to get more work done, it’s to do the work that matters. Bodell says anything can be simplified, but especially our processes, mindsets and schedules. Start by stripping things away to the essentials and only adding back in the things that matter most. Evaluate every aspect of your schedule or process to ensure it is valuable and not just busy work. Pharmaceutical company Novartis simplified its processes to drive collaboration and innovation. Video is now mandatory for all meetings, and any meeting longer than 30 minutes requires permission. Other companies are only allowing meetings to be scheduled on certain days of the week so that employees can focus on their own work the rest of the week.
When your mind and schedule is free of pointless or busy tasks, you have more energy to dedicate to innovation and can clear the space for better ways of doing things.
Know Your Skillset And Pivot
Innovation requires individuals and companies to pivot to something new. Successful innovation is often based on your skills and abilities. Instead of trying something completely new, you can pivot to an area where you know you will be strong.
Bodell recommends knowing your skillset and pivoting within those boundaries. Start by examining your skills and abilities. Where are areas you excel or that you know you can thrive? Use those skills as a jumping off point for innovation. Bodell shares the example of Dyson, a company that has a well-established production process. When COVID-19 first hit, the company was able to easily pivot from manufacturing vacuums to manufacturing respirators. Because of the company’s expertise in manufacturing and established culture of curiosity, Dyson could pivot to a new product area and innovate.
COVID-19 has proven to be a catalyst for innovation. To keep innovation moving forward, focus on questioning assumptions and simplifying so you and your organization can become agile and be able to pivot, no matter what is happening in the world.
This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC.
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Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.