Top Questions from Our “Innovating Through Uncertainty: How to Transform Forward” Webinar

Last week, we hosted a webinar titled “Innovating Through Uncertainty: How to Transform Forward”. Hosted by Rob Sherrell, Global Customer Transformation & Customer Experience Lead, panelists discussed the ever-changing foreseeable future and how Rapid Innovation can help leaders understand the drivers of change and identify new opportunities. Panelists included: 

  • Juan Campillo, Connectivity Innovation Director at Telefónica  

  • Sal Shaikh, ECommerce Director at Coca-Cola 

  • Heather Balkema, Senior Director – Experience Design at North Highland 

  • Andrew Pennycuick, Senior Consultant at North Highland 

Heather, can you talk about how the rapid innovation sprint works and if it could apply to all businesses or just those facing big disruption? 

Heather: At the beginning of the pandemic, clients were trying to navigate all of the change and collect trends and signals of change. As clients looked to make their next move, they were faced with paralysis and were overwhelmed with where to start.  

We put together a two-week spring to identify what signals of change are most important and to identify solutions for an organization. This sprint could be used to address issues due to the pandemic or projects that were put on hold because of the pandemic. The first week focuses on identifying signals of change and ideating solutions. The second week focuses exploring the 5-6 most viable solutions deeply, with a goal of providing clients with 1-3 ideas that clients can put into play.  

Sal, can you share how you approached innovation pre-COVID and how that shifted during COVID? 


Sal: Coca-Cola has always been innovative, what COVID changed was the pace at which we need to innovate. Pre-COVID, piloting was usually the method of operation, but COVD forced us to change our thinking from pilots to experiments to quickly point out what is working and what doesn’t. This allows a focused approach on experiments. With Heather and the North Highland team, we used scenario planning to look at the probability of futures and extreme situations, figuring out a response plan and testing hypotheses in small pockets. This helped us prepare for the future. Everyone’s role at Coca-Cola is to innovate, experiment and to figure out what’s next. COVID just accelerated our rate of innovation.  

Juan, Telefónica was the first company North Highland partnered with to pilot this rapid innovation 10-day sprint approach during COVID, so can you tell us more about how that accelerated your innovation work and any impact you’re starting to see? 

Juan: We were in the middle of revisiting our innovation portfolio when COVID hit. We realized that things were changing very quickly and understood that we had two important things to consider: that you need to innovate and focus teams quickly, and you need a framework that will last the coming months and that you can come back to.  

We used the 10-day sprint to close on a project we were already working on. This had an impact on internal innovation and was also a conversation starter for startups that wanted to join our incubation program. The sprint can also help inspire your workforce. When COVID started, our workforce was in a negative mood. Shifting to a positive mindset was helpful in shifting innovation and creating positive momentum. We want to make sure our people were empowered to create a better world, not a more negative one, and felt empowered to work on new projects and embracing new ideas. 

Andrew, given you were on the ground with the Telefónica team day to day, what would you add around lessons learned and how to think about this process that others on the webinar could learn from? 

Andrew: Since March, I’ve been working on innovation sprints with clients. The main takeaway is to maintain resilience and keep going. On week 1, you’re dealing with a ton of different trends and research, which can be unnerving, but you must keep going. Keep having conversations, especially while working remotely, to enable divergent thinking. Be inspired by others and look outside of your organization or industry. For example, we took inspiration from a local fisherman and what he did to transform his business overnight through COVID. Just keep going and stay focused. 

Interested in learning more? Click here to watch the full webinar recording.  

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