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Innovating Remotely

March 30, 2020

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Need ideas on how to innovate remotely?

This week, we've challenged our Head of Innovation and Consultancy, David Richmond, to put together three tips a day for those of us who are new to working this way. Let us know what you think!

1) Collaborating Remotely

Creative Thinking Sessions

Always provide colleagues with background and a clear challenge to be solved. You can provide stimuli in the form of links, videos, animations, graphics and photos as well as text documents. Each person should know they are expected to put forward a potential solution - maybe ask them to condense their idea into 5 or 6 words and use a quick round of these ideas to start your meeting. Make sure that each idea is discussed and that they are prioritised within the team. Circulate clear actions afterwards setting out what each member needs to work on remotely before the next meeting.

We think this blog is great - we're planning to start our next video conference with suggestions on the the worst solutions as a fun ice-breaker - and who knows what surprises it will produce?

Collaborative Tools and Techniques

Choose appropriate tools for collaborating and sharing. Here, we are using Office 365 and it's suite of Apps such as Sharepoint and Teams. We're sharing folders and files, and regularly hold team meetings with both video and audio. We've found screen sharing via Teams particularly useful in helping us to set up systems from home! With clients and wider collaborative groups, we're often using Zoom for team calls. Other well known platforms for file sharing include Slack, Dropbox and Googledocs.

Techradar have collated a list of their favourite collaboration tools here.

International Collaboration

Building international collaborative relationships and identifying international partners is crucial for us so that our clients can leverage our expertise to grow their businesses. We're finding that this is a good time to continue doing this and are in regular contact with our international colleagues.

Holding conversations, sharing information, signing NDAs and discussing strategy can all be done remotely, so you can start them all today!

If you're an innovator and want to start the process of finding partners abroad you can begin by visiting the EEN partner database where you can fill in a really simple online expression of interest form. Alternatively, you can contact our EEN team using the details below.  

2) Research and Thinking Time

Remote Research

Now more than ever, many of us are spending several hours a day in front of our computers, with Google at our fingertips. So, now is a good time to research markets, product innovation, grants and loans and to collate the information we need for future reference. Often the first few Google results are advertisements, and may or may not be what you are looking for, so bear that in mind and scan the results for the one with the most relevant information.

Bookmark your favourite webpages and create folders for bookmarks so that you are effectively creating a filing system for useful sites. You may prefer to copy and paste links to these sites in a Word document and make extra notes. When you return to the research later this will be a really useful way to navigate back to the sites that were the most useful.

If you're embarking on market research, Google Trends is an excellent tool. There are few articles out there that show you how to use Google Trends, we like this one from TechRepublic.

Deep Working

This is the ability to focus on a demanding task without distraction. If you're working from home, you can schedule time when you are free from distraction and have everything you need to hand to enable some quality thinking time. You may be developing ideas, building mental prototypes, developing value propositions and creating a go to market strategy. We love Cal Newport's book on the topic, and this video summary with tips.

We use several tools to help our clients focus on their business models, innovation goals and value propositions. If you want to discuss any of these, get in touch using the contact details below and we can share them with you.

Intellectual Property

Now is a good time to review your Trademarks and Patents. We think this Gov UK page is a great place to start looking into this complex landscape, and we'd also be happy to talk it through with you.

3) Tools and Systems

Idea Management

If you haven't considered using them before, now could be the time to research Idea Management Platforms. They help you manage ideas from concept through to delivery. Most platforms include features such as: idea gathering, collaboration, management review, project management and KPIs. A good place to start researching which platforms have the features you need is by searching for reviews and blogs on the topic such as this one.  

Open Innovation

Open innovation platforms allow you to post challenges that a community of solvers respond to. The size of the community varies from platform to platform and can help solve very practical like identifying suppliers through to more creative and technical challenges. Here's a good article discussing a range of platforms covering open innovation in B2B, engineering, data science and more.


These are timed, competitive and fun events where a group of people are tasked to solve a specific problem and develop concepts and prototype products. Hackathons often include external participants but can work very well inside an organisation. You can conduct a remote hackathon using an Idea Management Platform or via collaborative tools such as Teams. The best hackathons have a clear challenge with diverse participants and have regular breaks at set times that keep up motivation levels. Find out more about this fun way to crowdsource ideas from your colleagues here.

4) Ideas and Solutions

Revisit previous ideas

Have you shelved ideas in the past because you didn't have enough time to dedicate to them? Revisiting these now could throw up some unexpected gems! Listing them on separate post-it notes, grouping these together in themes, then prioritising the themes is a good way to start sorting out which ideas to take forward. You may be able to develop a mental prototype or a mimimum viable product that you can test with your network.

Design Thinking

This is the process of putting users at the centre of our thinking when designing products and services. The first two phases in the process are empathising with, and then defining, your clients' problems. If you set some time aside now for these two phases, you could set yourself up for creating successful new products and services when business gets back to normal. For now, you could create some online surveys, prepare a telephone interview list, or research LinkedIn profiles to make connections. We like this design thinking article with interesting examples.

Switching Focus

Could you switch focus during the crisis to help both your clients and your business? We've all seen distilleries switch to producing alcohol-based hand gels, and 3D printers being used to create ventilator components. Could you re-purpose aspects of your own business? We're finding ourselves helping clients to bring forward their year end to make early R&D claims, as well as signposting them to other areas of COVID-19 business support. If you think you have an idea about changing areas of your business, get in touch and talk it through with us!

5) New Ways to Work  

New Digital Platforms and Content

Many of us are embracing platforms like Zoom, Skype, Slack and Teams in a way that we never did before. Given the benefits in productivity they can bring, it's likely we'll continue to use them when we return to the office. If you don't know where to start, you can use this Business Model Canvas to map out elements of your business that can be digitised to benefit your clients, and automate your tasks. We also like this Digital Readiness tool, and we're just a call away if you want support using these resources.

Now is a good time to get your social media platforms up and running and to plan digital content such as blogs, newsletters and videos.

Be an Agile Business

An agile business can rapidly adapt to changes in a productive and efficient way. Agile businesses are in a good position in the current crisis as they can re-invent themselves quickly. Any level of agility in an organisation will reduce risk, so now is a good time to think about how you can be agile. We're continually striving to work in an agile way, and we'd love to talk with you about how to do the same with your business.

Join Innovation Activities

Look out for opportunities to join online innovation activities that are springing up. An example we really like is this Hackathon exploring ways to combat COVID-19.

We hope you've been inspired by these ideas for working effectively when working remotely

Contact us for an informal chat about any of the above topics and how they could help your business

We can help establishing international links, developing a value proposition, reviewing IP and so much more!

Phone: 01925 506100

Email: info@inventya.com

March 30, 2020
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