Highlights from October on Reconnecting With Customers and Colleagues

By Lilly Milman |  November 2, 2020

The early months of fall — September, October, and even early November — are often referred to in the corporate world as “conference season.” It’s a time for networking, reconnecting, and re-energizing before the end of the year. 

Last month, the team at InnoLead held our first-ever fully virtual Impact conference — drawing in our biggest crowd yet, and exiting the week with a wealth of knowledge about what innovators are focused on right now. Video passes are still available for innovators who could not participate live. We also released the second part of our “CxOs & Innovation” report, published alongside our sponsor KPMG, which focuses on a new vision for corporate innovation. We learned about how corporates are keeping in touch and reconnecting with consumers, and with each other. 

We’ve gathered the best pieces of recent advice we’ve been given by innovators in our live show, report, and other online coverage.

1. “Don’t Measure Too Much.” 

In an interview on our Innovation Answered podcast, Rosetta Stone’s Co-President Matthew Hulett stressed the importance of not over measuring customer data. The education company went from a CD-ROM model to an online subscription service, leading to an influx of analytics about users. But you don’t have to obsess over every new metric. 

“The dashboards that I’ve typically seen…are so large that you’re constantly hitting page down, because there’s page after page after page of things that are being measured. For us, it’s really about the customer satisfaction rating. And we’d look at NPS and App Store ratings,” Hulett said. To hear more, listen to the full episode

2. Avoid Alienating Employees with Different Styles of Working

When Tracey Lovejoy and Shannon Lucas, Co-Founders of consultancy Catalyst Constellations, found themselves burned out and confused about the future of their respective careers, they realized they weren’t wired in the same way as many of their colleagues. Lovejoy and Lucas consider themselves “catalysts,” a unique subset of innovators who are driven by the need to make rapid change, often at the cost of their mental health and work/life balance. 

This led Lovejoy and Lucas to find others like them and co-author a book on the subject. If you’ve ever felt like you were different than other innovators you were working with, you may be a catalyst, too. Read the exclusive excerpt of their book Move Fast. Break Shit. Burn Out.: The Catalyst’s Guide to Working Well to learn more. 

3. Find Out Where Your C-suite Needs Help, and Jump In

Innovators are constantly tasked with having to prove their value to a company, with many struggling to do so during the pandemic. However, the C-suite needs agile thinkers who are quick on their feet now more than ever, according to Paul Campbell, former Chief Innovation Officer at W.L. Gore. 

“Innovation teams in Silicon Valley are busier than ever responding to executives’ calls for help across the corporation,” he writes. “Their hands are in everything from responding to strategic and operational opportunities, to applying their skills to solve problems, to helping set new directions for innovation, research, and venturing.” 

Read Campbell’s full article — originally published in the special issue of our magazine, “Innovation Matters More” — to learn about connecting often and efficiently with the C-suite. 

4. Surround Yourself With People Who Compliment Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Jason Field, CEO and President of W.L. Gore and Associates, believes that an employee’s contributions are far more important than their title. This idea is baked into the culture at Gore, a company known for a number of innovations like Gore-Tex fabrics. 

“Advice [I’d give] to anyone looking to really make a significant impact in innovation [is]: Really understand your strengths, accentuate those strengths, build on those strengths, and then put people around you who can address the gaps [and] compliment you… That’s been a recipe for success here at Gore for many years,” he said. “That’s how I was trained and brought up in this enterprise.”

We interviewed Field as a part of our “CxOs & Innovation” research report. To find out more about how he gets innovation initiatives over the finish line, read the full interview.

5. Innovators, Get Involved in Your Company’s Scenario Planning

At the onset of the pandemic, Jodie Brinkerhoff’s team at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport became accustomed to working on projects “in fits and starts” as they came up. Eventually, after figuring out solutions to earlier problems like sanitization and passenger safety protocol, the organization arrived at a place where traditional scenario planning was necessary. They began looking at the “what if scenarios.”

This is where the innovation team’s perspective became crucial, and Brinkerhoff says the team contributed to scenario planning by partnering with all of the departments and business units at the airport to understand what the organization had to do to counter the negative impacts of the pandemic. Watch the replay of Brinkerhoff’s One Quick Thing episode to learn more about the team’s role in responding to the pandemic.