Normalizing Innovation from Forced Changes to the New Normal

“The faster things move, the sooner data become outdated. The more we know, the more information has an expiration date. Opinions aren’t made to be set in stone. They’re made to stretch like rubber.” – Adam Grant

This Adam Grant quote is one of my favorites that describes our duty to evolve as the landscape shifts around us. As with anything new, people tend to react with the “shiny penny” response. We see something that looks so promising, so innovative, so fresh, and believe it will be the long-awaited solution to all our problems. Then as time passes, we realize that while this new shiny penny has its upsides, it’s best used in doses—balance is key.

With every passing year, month, and at this point one could argue hour, technology presents new opportunities for us to excel in our personal and professional lives. Whether it’s a new app that increases ease of connectivity with our friends, a new watch that can tell how we’re sleeping, or an automated security system that “reacts” to the sound of aggression—the options are seemingly endless. Our obligation is to avoid the impulse to settle. Avoid accepting the mental state of “this is good enough” and “I’ve always done it this way, so that’s the way it’s going to be.” Technology opens opportunities for all of us to challenge the status quo and improve the state of our respective industries.

- Sponsors -

At Wicklander-Zulawski and Associates (WZ), we are working to lean into the resources afforded to us by advances in technology and using them as the catalyst for continued innovation. After COVID hit, every one of us was stopped in our tracks. Long held feelings of security were shaken to their core, and every aspect of business as we knew it needed to be reevaluated. Failure to innovate would mean certain death (professionally speaking). Our priority was recognizing we needed to adjust our business model (quickly) to a fully remote experience. This meant sourcing video platforms, overhauling 100 percent of our content for the remote learning experience, educating our clients on the effectiveness of virtual training, and teaching our internal team how to be effective instructors in the virtual space.

Forced Innovation

“If I asked the public what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” – Henry Ford

When we asked ourselves what our clients wanted before COVID, the number one priority certainly was not more virtual training options. It made the list, but it wasn’t the first thing we focused on. Maybe more in-person seminars? More webinar topics? New curriculum ideas? People didn’t fully trust in the concept of interview training unless it was through an in-person experience. They didn’t know (and neither did we) until we all had to jump in and try it out firsthand. Now, it’s second nature.

These “forced” innovations are what paved the way to our transition of no longer being fully reliant on one style of facilitated training options (virtual and in-person). The “shiny penny” that was Zoom, Teams, and Hangouts has now found its way into the fold of our standard suite of diverse training opportunities. In fully embracing the hardship that came from venturing into the unknown realm of virtual training, we came out on the other end with a more advanced and approachable training package. Through it all, we learned new and more effective ways to positively impact our clients—innovation.

In learning from the experiences of the past two and a half years, the need to innovate has only accelerated. Learning new ways to optimize the virtual space has afforded us the opportunity to continue to enhance the learning experience for our attendees. Not only are we able to conduct one, two, three, four, or even five-day training courses fully online, but we are also able to increase the one-on-one time spent with our clients.

On a weekly basis, seminar attendees reach out and request separate calls to ask follow-up questions from the course. The comfort level developed from using video platforms over the last few years has made these follow-up requests a simple way for our clients to capitalize on their learning experience. Members from executive teams are now able to observe the training by jumping into a class to see firsthand what their teams are learning. The benefits from providing accessible virtual options have been a critical win for our customer experience.

Conducting Video Interviews

Beyond training innovation, we are seeing an increase in utilizing video platforms for conducting investigative interviews. At WZ, we have talked at length about remote interviewing solutions, however one of the major wins from the COVID-era innovations came from the normalizing of remote interviews. Taking it a step further, the normalizing of recording investigative interviews is now available.

In using video platform options, the ability to record investigative interviews, both within the public and private sectors, has suddenly become an approachable option. Innovation has a habit of creating new ideas and spawning new solutions—this case is no different. With the increase in virtually recorded interviews, there is now a robust queue of real interviews to be referenced for internal training purposes and for objective legal review.

And think, none of this would have happened (at least not at this pace) without the hardship of COVID.

Our relationship with technology has evolved from no longer using technology to make things more manageable, but to a point of co‑dependency. We are collectively intertwined with our devices. Think about the last time you went a full week without getting on a video call. As with anything, our priority remains to find balance—easing back into face-to-face, in-person options while still providing the virtual experience for those interested. Finding new innovative strategies to capitalize on marrying both methods of delivery is the new normal.

Remember that to innovate means to change something that’s established. If COVID taught us anything, it should be to always challenge the established mindset. Innovation needs to be the new normal, so when the unforeseen and terrible does happen, we are ready to meet the challenge head-on.