Reflections after attending Remote Innovation Strategy Session

Within the Hello Monday Club Community, we host Strategy Sessions, intimate sessions where we invite a guest and take a deep dive in a strategic topic. With the insights derived from the sessions, our members get the foundation and to bring the topic to the board room and create progressive HR and policies and new solutions. Hello Monday Club Community Members get the opportunity to attend these sessions live and present their business case to the expert and the hosts of the community, Trevor Hudson and Angelique Slob.

In February 2021, we had a session with Innovation Expert and MBA professor Bryan Cassady on

“How to create a culture of innovation in an online working environment”.

One of our members wrote the following summary:

Last week, several news outlets announced that CEOs from some reputable companies (eg: Goldman Sachs, Netflix) calling remote work an “aberration” and other such terms.

Coincidentally, at Hello Monday Club, in the latest learning session, we discussed innovation in the online working environment. Our guest was Bryan Cassady, MBA Professor, innovation expert, and strong believer in remote working.

It was an honour and great pleasure to participate in this session with Angelique, Bryan and Trevor.

Many concepts mentioned below are not new. However, as “future of work innovators”, we know that the road from “theory” to “practice” is seemingly endless. I hope the summary below will give you a framework to reflect on innovation in your remote working practices and offer some practical tips to make small, but impactful changes.

First thing’s first: What does remote working impact innovation? Bryan has summarised 3 main benefits that directly impact innovation, and as a consequence, business success:

• Easier access to talent. Recruiting for remote teams means access to a larger pool of candidates, and almost endless opportunities for finding the most suited talent for your team.

• Positive impact on Diversity and Inclusion. Gone are the days when because of location, only certain people could work on specific projects. Remote working invites for stronger cross-collaboration regardless of location or department.

• Faster, time based improvements. We have gained access to such a wide range of online collaboration tools that we don’t have to wait for meetings in order to make progress. We can work asynchronously and move at a much faster pace, removing constraints.

In order to embrace this way of working though, organisations need to open up their structures.

As Bryan put it, when it comes to innovation “a good system is more important than great people.”

To better illustrate this concept, Bryan makes an analogy to the structure of a house:

The strong, reliable foundation represents clarity on the vision and unity of the team working towards the same goal. Next level are the processes we build for removing barriers to remote working, collaboration and innovation. Second floor represents the persistence to stick to deadlines and timings that we set for ourselves.

Finally, the roof represents the organisation’s way of opening up to the world. How is the organisation listening and interacting with its customers?

One topic that came to mind for me while listening to this conversation, is a key component for the future of work, but still a mystery in terms of practice: trust. We cannot be successful in our remote practices without ensuring that trust is present across all levels of the organisation. Bryan and Angelique had some great tips and insights into building trust:

• Continuously check that team members are buying into the vision and are aligned.

• Build team agreements around accountability: How are we accountable to ourselves and the team? Can we give each other feedback? Daily stand-ups are a great practice recommended by Bryan to ensure continuous team alignment and accountability.

• Create opportunities for finding solutions together to sticky problems;

• Reward success: instead of offering rewards at the end of the project / process and only once a year, Bryan recommends giving them continuously throughout the journey.

Humble and very grateful to Angelique and Trevor for creating this opportunity to learn more on the topic, to Bryan for sharing his knowledge and insights so openly.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Bryan that I believe summarizes perfectly the mindset we should approach change with:

“Attitudes follow behaviours, not the other way around.”

Let’s start making small changes in our daily behaviours, and the mindset towards remote working will follow.

PS: Needless to say, I believe I speak on behalf of Angelique, Bryan and Trevor that our answer to the statements made last week regarding remote working, would be a quintessentially English, “bollocks!”

Header photo by Matt Ridley on Unsplash and used to promote the session on Hello Monday Club