COVID-19 Resources

Remaining Innovative in a Time of Crisis [Four Ways to Stay Innovative During the COVID-19 Pandemic]

Written by Kevin Wang on April 28, 2020

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Whether it’s intentional or not, it’s likely that you and the employees of your organization have been forced to be innovative, given the situation we find ourselves in during this epidemic.

As CDC’s social distancing guidelines remain in place for the foreseeable future, home offices have become the norm for a lot of the workforce in the U.S. With that sudden shift away from offices and into homes, a lot of disruption is inherently present—whether it’s a change in workstation set-up, team dynamics or additional distractions like spouses, kids or pets.

During a pandemic, when the business community seems to be trying to stay afloat, it’s important to remember that innovation is what has allowed working from home to happen in the first place. Continuing in that anticipatory mindset is what’s going to get us back to our daily routine.

Here are just a few ways your business can continue to utilize innovative advancements in this season, while also fostering an environment to allow for innovation of your own.

Listen to Business Advice Amid COVID-19: Process Improvement and Internal Controls, a special edition episode of Warren Averett’s podcast, The Wrap.

1. Look for Creative Combinations

Innovative initiatives are often thought of as a resource-intensive activity—whether it’s a new process internally, a new product being invented or a new service that’s being offered. Yet, the truth is that innovation is more often the combination of two or more existing processes, products or services that are combined to create an impact greater than the sum of its parts.

An everyday example of this is the streaming services we’re now all accustomed to. A full ten years after the dot-com craze, Netflix saw an opportunity to deliver content that was already produced (movies and TV shows) to consumers via a medium that was generally available (high-speed internet). Innovation isn’t necessarily investing heavily into research and development of a new process, product or service; it’s more so being creative with what we already have.

2. Keep a Pulse on Culture

Building and maintaining an innovative culture within your business is key to finding opportunities for innovation. Culture is often a mindset that can’t be changed overnight. Building a culture could take years of the organization’s leaders setting an example and sending constant messaging. A constant and consistent message is paramount for the employees of your organization to continue to look for and seize those opportunities. Once a strong culture is in place, the foundation will be laid for your organization to build upon.

3. Consider Communication

Communication is a fundamental of our society, and the coronavirus has really forced us to change how we are communicating. Various platforms have stood out to meet these unique circumstances, such as Zoom for video meetings and Microsoft Teams for collaboration. Rather than the occasional meeting with your team in the hallways, virtual pop-up meetings and routine check-ins are happening. With the mobile technology afforded to us, an innovative way to attend a meeting is to walk around a neighborhood or park while on your phone. Science tells us that our creative thinking is notably boosted while walking.

4. Don’t Stop Learning

Many are taking this period as a time to either brush up on skills or obtain new certifications. Whether it’s Tableau, Alteryx or even Microsoft Excel, material advancements are continually being made in the software and tools available to automate and improve the work process. These advancements span across all areas within an organization from procurement and finance all the way through to HR and operations. If you’ve thought to yourself that you simply haven’t had the time, this might be perfect time to do so. As many of us are adhering to social distancing guidelines, including on nights and weekends, another good idea during this time is obtaining that designation or certification you’ve always wanted.

Innovation and Opportunity

Until we are back to our normal routine, more ideas will emerge in terms of how we can be more efficient and effective. Whether it’s finding the right room in our homes to work in or identifying the time slot where you get the most done, we are all forced sometimes to be a bit innovative.

If we combine our collective ideas with some of today’s technological tools, we can come out even better than where we were before.

Continue to stay safe and be well.

Kevin Wang is the Director of Innovation at Warren Averett—a role in which he considers the Firm’s use of technology and operations in order to foster continuous improvements that will help the Firm reach its business goals. Learn more about Kevin or contact him directly.

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This article reflects our views at the time this article was written and should be used as reference only. We recommend that you talk to your Warren Averett advisor, or another business advisor, for the most current information or for guidance specific to your organization.

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