Highlights from Our April Coverage on COVID-19 and Innovation

By Kaitlin Milliken |  May 1, 2020

As much of the world continues to stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic, innovators face uncertainty on all fronts. The timeline for social distancing in many places stretches forward without an end date. Unemployment and the strain on the economy have also grown. This month our team has increased our virtual offerings to connect you with a community that can help you adapt quickly as the situation evolves. That includes our new weekly live show, One Quick Thing.

We’ve gathered the best pieces of recent advice from our live show and other online coverage to kick-start your month.

1. Overthinking Slows Down Progress

“Don’t sit around overthinking things,” says Dan Wheeler, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Innovation at Wahlburgers. “Innovation programs may now be forced to operate more quickly, with less opportunity to get ‘paralyzed by analysis.’ Those programs that get good at [moving quickly]…will emerge as leaders.”

Wheeler points to an example at the 35-restaurant burger chain: the company rolled out curbside pickup via their mobile app in 48 hours. Read the full interview to find out how the team used a difficult situation to accelerate innovation.

2. Build Scenarios that Describe Different Futures

Innovation teams can play a vital role in helping their organizations think through, and plan for, the impact of changes in the existing business as the result of the pandemic and its associated economic ripples. They can also help craft scenarios that describe how changing customer and societal behvaiors will affect the organization. We created a PowerPoint deck to help you lay out different scenarios — positive and negative — for your organization’s future. You can download it, and watch the video explainer.

3. Ask the Right Questions to Maintain C-Suite Support

When faced with budget cuts, senior executives may place innovation teams on the chopping block. “It is therefore essential that innovators proactively make strong, well-reasoned cases for how their teams can continue to create value…” writes Alex Slawsby, at Former Director of Innovation at the aerospace company, Embraer. 

According to Slawsby, teams should ask themselves four questions, including, “What do I know for certain about our shifting innovation priorities?” That can help guide innovators through pivots. See three other helpful questions in the full article.

4. Explore Virtual Means to Gather User Insights

With stay-at-home orders in place across much of the globe, corporate innovators must find new ways to gather feedback from prospective customers and users. The IDEO CoLab, which brings together multiple large organizations to innovate together, ran a distributed sprint to tackle COVID-19 related issues.

Participants were able to engage with projects through Zoom, Google Slides, and a collaborative design tool called Figma. This distributed approach cast a wider net for testing, without tilting toward a certain location or demographic. Another advantage: participants on all sides were already invested in the problem. “Existing barriers that commonly can hinder attraction or participation can give innovators an advantage during this time, because the emotional context has already been unearthed,” writes Tim Berendt in the contributed article.

Read the full piece by Berendt, the former Director of Innovation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mass.

5. Find Ways to Improve the Digital Experience

Healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente offers telemedicine services through four modalities: phone calls, video chats, email exchanges, and a text-based, online chat. “All four modalities are on fire,” says Prat Vemana, Chief Digital Officer at Kaiser. “Prior to COVID-19, we probably had single digits or very low teens adoption [of telemedicine]… Now almost 80 percent of the care that [Kaiser] provides is through telemedicine and virtual care.”

According to Vemana, his team is focused on making remote care options “easy, super seamless, but very meaningful for patients.” Learn more about telehealth at Kaiser.