As Stéphanie did a few days ago, I’m going to try to wrap up 2021 with a few highlights and ideas for the next five years. No surprise about the predominance of covid during these last two years in our work, the management of our agency, customers and collaborations. I won’t go back on this so much, as we already discussed it last year.
Our new normal
You might remember that we saw the lockdowns and travel bans coming for everyone since late 2019, and we shifted gears really quickly. That being said like everyone else we had to deal with critical uncertainties and some serious adjustments. In any case, 2021 was probably the year where we really got back to top speed and efficiency with our different missions.
A few things that were exciting for me during last year was:
- Going meta by helping larger consulting companies or high profiles ones on some critical aspects of their strategy.
- Retooling and refocusing the innovation strategy of major industrial players.
- Collaborating on a Mobility-as-a-Service recommendations report for the French government.
- Fully launching our web school with different customers.
- Investing in a startup.
- Pruning some other activities (more on that later).
All this from our home office, without zooming in and out of planes and hotels anymore.
Working from home works
Part of the transition was to fully equip our home office to deal with 100% remote work. I’m surprised that many are yet to upgrade their camera setup or get a simple media mixer to manage picture-in-picture images for videoconferencing. To be fair I probably went a bit far with image quality, but these little things go a long way with customers.
My 2021 mantra for remote working with customers stayed entirely consistent: 30% less fun for everyone, 30% more efficient for project deliverables. I still stand by it.
Notably, this also required designing workshops in a very different way than for an in-presence audience. And it was pretty interesting to come up with an efficient online template to guide groups in different strategic scenarios while keeping as much flexibility as possible:
Off-loading our training activities to online asynchronous modules and synchronous work sessions was also a huge help. And I must say that Stéphanie and I were pretty happy to realize that the way we managed in-presence training sessions since 2008 worked really well for recording training modules for the web.
The way we always strived to get the core of the subject at hand, using the necessary tools and removing as much of the ‘fluff’ as possible had a massive pay-off for designing online experiences.
Refocusing our training programs
As we speak, we have eight full online classes dealing with innovation:
Why these topics first? Why are most of them in French still? Well, simply because they were the first ones asked and paid for by different innovation ecosystems or industrials.
We will probably have a few more in 2022, but we’re not going overboard with all this. The key objective is to help large groups of customers debunk specific innovation myths, create a common language, and share tools that work.
Working on this (and make no mistake, this is A LOT of work, even when you’ve done each of the training dozens and dozens of times and know exactly what to deliver and when to do it) was also a tremendous opportunity to reassess partnerships we had with some innovation ecosystems. The way all of us deliver or participate in trainings should just move on. Being stuck for a day or two in the same room doesn’t make a lot of sense anymore. At least of course, in our line of business.
That being said I’m really shocked to see how much management schools are just not willing to change and bend backward to keep the way they were working in the eighties alive. The thing is that even if you’re in the top 10 management schools of your country, you’re not in the top 3 worldwide. And yet, you’re now competing with them. What Seth Godin built a few years ago, and the follow-up by Scott Galloway is certainly the new normal.
The irony that the same schools or startup ecosystems that train on innovation, disruption, and the digital economy, can’t even start to barely adjust course should not be lost on anyone.
Investing more in partnerships
2021 Was also the year where we developed closer partnerships than usual. If you read this blog you probably know part of the gang of partners we work with on different types of missions to supplement our skillsets.
We worked for example quite extensively with one of our former students specialized in online business development to create a sales framework matching our innovation and culture framework approach (he has 10 years of professional track record under the belt now and we’re just getting that old).
And I have a few 2022 objectives in that regard too… I’ll keep you posted, but if you think you have an excellent skill indispensable for startups or corporate innovators, get in touch ; )
Investing more in startups
Stéphanie and I also started to invest in some startups. I’m not going to be too long here, just to note that we’ll probably try to make 2-3 more investments in 2022. This is not so much professional news (we don’t invest when we consult for a startup), but more personal news.
Nonetheless, if you see interesting B2B European startups, changing their playfield and with a fighting chance to survive, we could talk. We’re focusing on energy, foodtech, automation, and mobility systems for now (two words: carbon impact).
Personal life balance
- My uamount of books read dropped to about ten books last year, down from forty to fifty (hint: never read everything in business books). Meanwhile, my podcasts consumption skyrocketed. I file this under “lack of in-person interactions” and the need for some social liveness. Does it make sense? I’m sure it does.
- I got in a board-game buying (and playing) spree too. From solo to co-op, I’m now a specialist in worker placement mechanisms, rondelle and drafting, play and write, dice management, and 4X. Stéphanie was mildly worried, then was happy I didn’t go mad with my other addiction (mechanical watches). Shout out to the fantastic Senet magazine that I just discovered recently.
- Lastly, our covid cat is doing fantastic. She now has several parkour zones running on the office walls, the living room, and other house parts. She did travel too by train and plane like an angel. The keywords are #adventure #cat!
A few personal surprises for me in 2021 that I’d be curious to see if some of you shared:
That’s it for 2021, hopefully we’ll be seeing you in 2022 –maybe not with the cat though. : )