Lessons from 2020: How to Innovate and Create Through the Next Year

  • MITX
  • Author
  • Dec 17, 2020

As we prepare to leave 2020 behind us, it’s important that we take the lessons learned from this arduous year to ensure we step into 2021 on the best foot possible, ready to innovate and create our way through the upcoming year.

To help guide you as you plan and strategize for this upcoming year, we gathered pieces of advice from our community members. Below, they share how they pivoted their businesses during 2020, and what they learned in the process.

“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Kids in Tech successfully transitioned our afterschool tech club program from onsite only to a digital platform. This was difficult initially as we’ve been coinciding with each separate partner’s contingency plans.  

The current climate has taught me to remain agile while continuing to meet our organization’s social impact mission.

For organization leaders, it is important to frame the value of your work in the current context and find ways to garner support from stakeholders and motivate staff too. Why does our social mission matter now? It is also essential for nonprofits to create financial scenario plans and have honest conversations with stakeholders and donors, so they understand your current and future needs. Finally, organization leaders should focus on fine-tuning their existing or implementing new governance practices that help to create and foster trust and thriving workplace cultures.” 

-Olu Ibrahim, Kids in Tech 

Olu Ibrahim

“This year, I’ve pivoted my entire approach to how to engage our people and inspire them while working virtually.

My mission has always been to create a platform for every single person who works at Rapid7 to have the opportunity to achieve the career experience of their lifetime.

The mission has remained the same, but the approach to how to accomplish that while we can’t be together in person has completely shifted. It has involved an insane amount of transparency, communication, and relentless desire to lead people through a difficult period while helping them to find the opportunities to develop themselves and deliver impact for our customers at the same time. Candidly, it’s been one of my favorite years professionally. I thrive when I have hard problems to solve, people to engage, and boundaries to break.” 

-Christina Luconi, Chief People Officer Rapid7 

Christina Luconi

“Planning for the long term is critical, with a focus on how you can emerge stronger from the downturn.

Even when there are challenges to growing revenues, the opportunity is there to strengthen relationships with existing clients, fine tune product fit, and communicate a bold and differentiated vision to the marketplace.

This takes mental strength and belief in the value of your solution. Yes, you will likely have to cut costs and conserve cash, but you can use the time created by stalled business to place bets – don’t squander this. Develop your narrative. Meet with potential clients even if they don’t have budget now. Recruit influencers to become advisors – they may be more accessible. Celebrate your successes and keep progressing into the stronger economy where growth awaits the right solutions.” 

-Sarah Fay, Managing Director, Glasswing Ventures 

Sarah Fay

“As a strategic branding/marketing/communications agency (ThinkArgus), we thrive on in-person interactions and the serendipitous moments of discovery that come when our team is in the same room or strategizing in-person with a client. Our biggest COVID pivot?

Recognizing that ‘magic’ moments don’t happen by chance anymore – you have to create them, with intention. 

We have worked hard – sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing – to create virtual spaces for our team that recreate that sense of creative spark, of the unexpected, of innovation. 

Being able to adapt while keeping our core mission in mind has been critical for giving us the freedom to try new things and be bold. As we tell clients: True change can come only if you truly know who you are, at your heart.” 

-Caitlin Dodge, COO, ThinkArgus 

Caitlin Dodge

“The pandemic has accelerated iCorps initiatives already underway, most significantly in helping our clients work securely and collaboratively from home. Our company culture has mirrored this trend. After being fully remote through September, the management team is back in the office once or twice each week. Our consultants have been encouraged to do what is most comfortable for them, and some are slowly phasing back in. 

I expect that hybrid work is here to stay, both for iCorps and our clients. This has allowed us to expand from our Boston/NYC roots to supporting clients nationwide with high level expertise, delivered remotely.

We’ve been fortunate to continue growing in these very difficult times and look forward to continuing this trajectory through and beyond a return to the next new normal.” 

– Kirk Fackre, Vice President of Sales, iCorps  

Kirk Fackre

“SAVVI’s mission is to bring quality financial advice to the American population. As COVID spread earlier this year, we knew Americans faced major financial management challenges. It was time to really listen to what our customers wanted. We evaluated their pain points and identified proper medical coverage as a top concern was. To meet this need, SAVVI launched SmartSelectTM, a new line of digital assistants that leverage decision science for smarter benefit choices. The SmartSelect Suite helps evaluate each household situation to identify the best medical plan to meet household needs as well as optimal funding levels for FSAs, HSAs, and retirement savings accounts to maximize healthcare and retirement goals. 

My advice for others is to stop, take the time to listen to your customers, and understand what they really need.

Assemble your core team, empower them to innovate and develop targeted solutions that really meet customer needs.”  

-Gina Mourtzinou, Co-Founder and CEO at SAVVI Financial 

Gina Mourtzinou

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Founded in 1996, MITX (Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange) is a community of restless knowledge-seekers who collaborate and drive how technology is shaping the future of customer experiences. MITX programming is therefore focused on the facets of business that power CX: commerce, product, design, marketing, and data. MITX curates and develops content, experiences, and interactions to keep members ahead of the pace of change.
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