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Do we need a pandemic to show us that Innovation is more than a ‘NICE TO HAVE’?

Written by: Marita Mitschein - Senior Vice President Digital Skills EMEA South

Our day to day has significantly changed in this new reality. Regardless of how tech-savvy one was before this pandemic; we are now depending on digital tools to manage our lives – on a personal and a professional level. A lot of those products, services or platforms did not exist or were only available to a selected audience when being launched. Many of these were considered as too innovative, a ‘nice to have’, but not necessarily needed in the day to day use for many of us. Think about the elderly staying connected to their loved ones through video platforms, the average family using delivery apps for groceries or companies hosting large conferences in a virtual setup - the list goes on and on. In most of the cases there was no need for those tools, so they were scarcely used; the apparent need for such tools was fairly small. And yet organizations invested and brought them to market. Looking at the demand now, could we say some organizations were one step ahead of others? Or what’s their secret knowing what will be needed in the future? The answer is: their drive for innovation. 

Innovation: a buzzword, but do we really understand it?

How many times did you hear or read the word innovation only today? For sure, at least four times in this articles so far. And beyond?  Yes, it’s everywhere and yet it is still abstract for many of us – a buzzword. Let us first dig deeper on what exactly innovation is. The definition of several online encyclopedia is as follows: 

  • Innovation is the process of doing things differently and discovering new ways of doing things.
  • Innovation is adapting to change to better meet demands of products or services. 
  • Innovation is improving business processes and models, developing new products or services, adding value to existing products, services or markets. 
  • Innovation’s aim is to provide something original or unique which can have an impact on society. 


Why understanding and living innovation is crucial, especially in times of change

One point that is missing on this list: Innovation spares no one. It is critical for individuals and organizations alike. It is important for the CEO of a company as much as for the entrepreneur who is just getting started. That being said, you do not need to aim be the next Amazon or Airbnb. Small innovative changes can already help you to foster an innovation mindset, in order to proactively respond to potential disruptions.

Let us imagine the current pandemic would have happened a decade back: no virtual office meetings, no video calls with family and friends, no 24/7 food delivery to your doorstep. Let us think about the economical as well as emotional impact this would have had on all of us. By all means, the economic impact is still enormous, but simply envision how much worse it could have been a couple of years back. Companies would have stopped operating without any alternatives; no e-commerce, no IT infrastructure and availability etc. So, if there wasn’t an innovative mindset and driven team that decided to create these products, services or platforms, we would be in a less fortunate scenario now. 

Let us write (innovation) history!

At this moment, we are writing history as we are living through the most disruptive period we have ever seen, where new innovations are needed more than ever! That shows us: We need to think one step ahead and take this “opportunity of a lifetime” to reinvent ourselves and make this an ongoing practice. All of us. From SME’s to big corporates. Whether you are producing e.g. face masks and need to rethink your supply chain management due to high demands or whether you are an events company that needs to go fully virtual from one day to another. I strongly believe that we will rise from this crisis with a new appreciation for innovation and change. Innovation should be a mandatory component in your day to day and part of your strategy instead of being regarded as a luxury - especially now. “It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn.” B. C. Forbes


Being a huge enthusiast of innovation methodologies herself, Marita established the innovation coaching and workshop facilitator Winnovate with the vision to create and foster an innovation mindset within organizations and individuals. Winnovate, powered by SAP, empowers individuals and organizations to co-create, validate and implement innovative solutions that generate value for their stakeholders – in virtual and hybrid setups. Winnovate’s latest offering “Winnovate Link” helps organizations to virtually leverage innovation methodologies and work together on solutions to battle the outbreak and its impact on their organization, business model and the economy. 

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