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PA OPINION

20 unmissable insights from 2020

Amid the disruption that has defined this year, we’ve all struggled to keep up with the rapidly changing trends transforming the ways we live and work. Keeping the lights on and people safe have been singular priorities. Now, as we start a new year on a wave of vaccine-fuelled hope, we have the chance to take a moment, reflect on the year and learn from some of the stories we might have missed in 2020.

1. Saving lives by achieving the impossible

As the coronavirus pandemic worsened in the UK, it became clear that a rapid and significant expansion of ventilator capacity would be essential to saving lives. But how could the country condense years of development and manufacturing work into just weeks?

Read the story of how we coordinated the public and private sectors to ensure everyone who needed a ventilator got one, and discover the lessons all organisations can learn about accelerating life-changing innovation.

Learn how to accelerate innovation >

2. The public sector has a renewed imperative

The public sector faces a pivotal moment. Its response to COVID-19 has shown its societal importance while exposing opportunities to improve both single points of failure and wider structural weaknesses. By using the momentum of the pandemic to become more purpose-led, adaptive and collaborative, leaders can make public services – and society – better for all.

Learn how the public sector can embrace its renewed imperative >

3. Old dogs are learning new tricks during the biggest ever agile working experiment

As the world shifts to its new reality, organisations will face new challenges and their customers and employees will expect them to pivot immediately in response. So, to achieve long-term success, organisations must embed the agile behaviours and approaches that drove successful responses to COVID-19. They need to maintain the momentum and sense of purpose they’ve built up during the crisis by focussing their efforts on five dimensions of organisational agility.

Learn how to embed agile tricks into your organisation >

4. Finding the gold to create a more sustainable workforce future

Kintsugi, or golden repair, is the Japanese art of using gold to fix broken pottery. COVID-19 has shifted people’s lives, cracking the workforce infrastructure that supports them, keeps economies afloat and binds societies together. To embrace the approach of a kintsugi artist and rebuild that infrastructure to be better than it was, we need to challenge three traditional ways of thinking about the workforce.

Learn how to think like a kintsugi artist and create a better workforce >

5. COVID-19 will change business as usual forever

In the second quarter of 2020, it became clear that responding to COVID-19 wasn’t going to take typical crisis management – the effects were going to be long-lasting and change business as usual forever. The four themes we knew the C-suite needed to embrace then are just as important now as organisations look to transform for our new world.

Learn how to adapt to a new business as usual >

6. How robotic technology can transform global social care delivery

Robotic technology isn’t part of a sci-fi future. It’s here today, when a global pandemic is forcing us to accelerate change. Social care has a unique opportunity to seize this moment and improve the lives of people globally.

Learn how robotic technology can transform social care >

7. The bigger the challenge, the more ingenious businesses become

Necessity is the mother of invention. Never has that old phrase meant more than now, as the world battles to deal with COVID-19. We’ve seen inspiring examples of businesses confronting the challenge head-on, and they can teach us a lot about how to adapt at pace to meeting rapidly evolving needs.

Learn how ingenuity rises to the challenge >

8. Data analytics and scenario planning can make the difference to COVID-19 responses

As a business leader, your ability to accurately predict the impact of your decisions can make the difference between a misstep and a strong continuity response. But doing so at the pace required as we recover from the immediate effects of COVID-19 is incredibly difficult. To overcome this challenge, we’ve found four areas on which to focus data analytics efforts.

Learn how data analytics can add value to your COVID-19 recovery >

9. Rethinking how to manage cost in a time of crisis

The COVID-19 crisis differs to those organisations typically face – it’s not founded in finance but in health. So, the way organisations manage their costs needs to be different. Leaders must ensure they avoid the long-term impact drastic cuts can have on innovation, growth and their reputation among customers, employees and the communities they serve.

Learn how to rethink cost-out for a health-driven crisis >

10. Reinventing the tea bag for sustainability

Did you know the average tea bag is 20 per cent plastic? That means the UK alone throws out around 6.5 million kilograms of tea bag plastic each year. So, we looked at the humble tea bag with a different perspective to understand how to solve this ecological crisis. The answer is a ‘tea sheet’ – a unique layer of biodegradable material that has tea woven directly into it, so you can ensure the perfect brew every time. It’s a potentially world-changing innovation in an industry that’s been stable for decades.

Learn how taking a different perspective can drive innovation >

11. Developing innovative technology that can eliminate COVID-19 indoors

As COVID-19 became a global pandemic, Hydroxyl Technologies Ltd (HTL) knew the technology they were working on could save lives, they just had to accelerate its development. Working out of our Global Innovation and Technology Centre, we helped them make a reality of their concept for using a natural process to continuously sterilise the air and surfaces in an entire room. In just seven months, we created Airora Professional, a patented indoor air decontamination technology that actively combats viral and bacterial infections.

Learn what it takes to rapidly develop world-changing innovations >

12. Drive value from your innovation engine: a leader’s playbook to building an innovation operating model

Disruption is commoditising brands, products and services across industries. The only way to grow, stay relevant and compete will be by innovating at pace. For some organisations, this will be a completely new activity. For others, especially larger ones, current practices will need reorganising to keep up with disruptive, faster players. To ensure all organisations can capture the value of rapid innovation, we’ve defined a tried and tested approach to embedding innovation into organisations in as little as 30 days.

Learn how to embed value-adding innovation in your organisations >

13. Five ways for business leaders to reassure their people and reduce uncertainty

The uncertainty we saw as COVID-19 spread around the world is still with us as the extent of the pandemic’s economic impact emerges. These are difficult times for people worried about their futures. Yet business leaders can positively impact the lives of those working to deliver in difficult conditions.

Learn how to reduce uncertainty for your people >

14. Smart supply chains need smarter cyber security

Supply chain resilience has never been a more prominent issue than it is today, making the development of smart supply chains a top priority for many. But to make them truly effective, they require an innovative approach to cyber security.

Learn how to ensure your smart supply chain is cyber secure >

15. Lockdown Unlocked: understanding consumer habits through the pandemic

During the UK’s national lockdown, our consumer insight and analytics team at Sparkler explored how people were responding. By studying both qualitative and quantitative communities, we uncovered the changing habits of consumers across the country, providing invaluable insight into what businesses need to do to maintain connections with their customers.

Learn how consumer habits have changed in response to COVID-19 >

16. It’s time to challenge assumptions about sharing personal data

Even with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, we can’t just flick a switch and go back to normal. Easing restrictions will depend on robust monitoring – data has the power to keep us safe as the risk of infection continues. But what does this mean for how we think about personal information?

Learn how rethinking our approach to personal data could keep us safer >

17. Why ingenuity requires diversity

This year has put a renewed focus on how much work we must do to create a truly inclusive society. Inclusion in its truest sense – being open to all experiences, ideas and backgrounds – is about more than tolerance and acceptance. It can unlock ingenuity and offer incredible human and societal value.

Learn how inclusion and diversity can unlock your people’s ingenuity >

18. A framework for the future: designing business to deliver the UN SDGs

As we look to the future, each of us must embrace sustainability as a core principle in business and our personal lives. This isn’t just essential for the planet, it’s also key for business – achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 could be worth $12 trillion a year to the global economy. To unlock this value, we’ve worked with the UN Global Compact to create a framework for innovating around the Global Goals.

Learn how to innovate towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals >

19. Improve performance while optimising costs

With the global economy set for a significant reset, cutting costs has become essential to survival for many organisations. But too often, a short-term focus on cash flow and liquidity reduces innovation and long-term competitiveness. It’s one thing to be good at cost-cutting but turning cost optimisation into enhanced and enduring competitive advantage is something completely different. Our survey of more than 180 senior leaders around the world uncovered six dimensions of effectively optimising costs while improving performance.

Learn how to create competitive advantage from cost optimisation >

20. Saving lives by revolutionising cell and gene therapy manufacturing

Ingenious ideas are constantly transforming our world, but not all make it to market, even if they do have incredible potential. Making innovation commercially viable is a challenge, and one that cell and gene therapy company Ori Biotech faced. So, they asked us for help to make their novel method for manufacturing the therapies cost-effective. These personalised treatments offer hope for treating humanity’s most serious diseases, and now they could be accessible to all.

Learn how to make innovation commercially viable >

Contact the innovation team

Anita Chandraker

Anita Chandraker

Frazer Bennett

Frazer Bennett

Hugo Raaijmakers

Hugo Raaijmakers

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