Innovation is for life ...

  • by Ian McCawley
  • 22/06/2020

... not just for a crisis


It’s no exaggeration to say the coronavirus pandemic has been a hotbed of innovation. At commercial, charitable and other organisations across the globe, the need for new ideas has leapt from the back burner to the forefront of everyday work streamsin planning for a better future and a more challenging landscape in future.

Suddenly, concepts that may have been sitting in the ‘nice to have’ column, waiting for resource to become available to develop them or to find a business sponsor, have become the stimulus for organisations needing ideas to tackle their business challenges. Perhaps more than at any time in the past, innovation is now being recognised as the essential building block needed to bounce back from a crisis. It’s a real-time example of disaster driving creativity.

While many firms have their hands full with business as usual, the current crisis is showing us that innovation is key to success in fair weather or foul. Organisations that already operated from an innovation mindset, in particular those driven by technology such as direct-to-consumer ecommerce brands, found themselves on a firm footing to withstand the shockwaves which began to hit the economy in early spring.

In contrast, those with more rigid structures or a reliance on offline customer interactions have had to do their best to adapt quickly and attempt to cling on in a harsh climate. Inevitably, some businesses that weren’t able to pivot have   suffered: stores without a compelling online presence; travel providers that rely on advance bookings. Companies like Flybe and Carluccio’s have paid the ultimate price, going into administration.

At a good number of firms, though, sales have grown rapidly. Online grocery, home fitness and cycling are just a few sectors that have seen high demand, but many have had to remodel operations, beef up their infrastructure and adapt supply chains to cope.

While some of those are obvious examples, innovation is rife in other walks of life, too. Look at schools: those already set up for digital innovation have coped admirably, delivering continual learning and keeping children engaged, whereas others less well equipped have found it difficult to manage and lag behind their peers.

Ask your friends about their experiences of home schooling, and stories range from surprise and delight at how well platforms like Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom have been supporting their kids’ academic progress, to parental anxiety caused by a clunkier interaction with teachers, minimal guidance and a lack of virtual learning.

As we emerge from this difficult period, organisations of all types are likely to find themselves either in the ‘innovation rich’ or ‘innovation poor’ category. Next, they will all want to know what successful innovation looks like now and in the future.

So how does good innovation happen? And can organisations that were already geared up to innovate get even better?

In our latest webinar - How to innovate to drive recovery and growth post-lockdown - on 23rd June we’ll be examining why innovation should be the golden thread that runs through your organisation, not just a ‘big ideas’ manual left to gather dust on the shelf till the next crisis hits.

In our 45-minute session we’ll consider the key ingredients of successful innovation. How do you adapt your products, marketing, and communications to engage new cohorts of people who think and behave differently? How can technology influence how you design customer experiences? How do you rapidly identify concepts that have the best chance of success? We’ll tackle all of these questions and lots of others too.

At WPNC, we’re often asked by existing and potential clients to help devise smart strategies that will open up market opportunities. That might be through technology, like charities using the goDonate platform to automate donations. Or it could be the development of a whole new brand to support a nascent subscription service like Brew Republic.  

To illustrate our approach to innovation we’ll also be sharing a series of online articles that broaden the themes of the webinar and draw on examples from the past few months.

First we’ll look at how commercial organisations have innovated since the outbreak of the virus and some of the common problems they’ve faced, from supply chain setbacks to staffing issues.

Then we’ll consider how the charity sector, doubtless one of the hardest-hit areas, has been coping by harnessing creative change.

Finally, we’ll cast an eye to the future, outlining what we believe will be the next set of challenges organisations across all sectors must overcome - and how embracing innovation can help to provide solutions.

Do join us at 10am on 23rdJune to discover how your organisation can be internally ready to innovate, regardless of the external situation


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