As the year draws to a close, many business leaders find themselves in the same boat: spend your budget surplus or risk losing it. Even more of a challenge is finding a way to spend an excess budget that’s impactful and delivers value to the organization (no more coffee mugs!). When evaluating opportunities to make the most of the year-end, you should be looking for quick wins that drive impact for your team, while also setting your department up for success in next year’s first quarter. Here are five ways to end the year on a high note and get a jump start on reaching next year’s goals that won’t require months of planning.

1. If you’re ‘Zoomed’ out...

If you’re currently working remotely, months of virtual meetings have probably left you with at least some degree of digital fatigue. On top of that, we don’t have the opportunity to get together with our team members for the typical end-of-year town hall, party, or gathering to celebrate everything we’ve accomplished together. 

Whether you’re missing out on your usual holiday party or a 2021 planning session (or something in-between), there’s a better way to end the year than a 500-person Zoom. Instead, deliver a more immersive, interactive experience for your team. 

Our suggestion? A customized Microsoft Teams environment with collaborative activities, engaging breakout rooms, guest speakers, and even analog tie-ins to make the experience feel more like an in-person event (think: a semi-virtual wine tasting or delivered meal).

2. If you’re ready to get a head start on 2021 innovation…

The pandemic has forced all of us to rethink how we can best meet our customer’s needs,  but it isn’t always easy to do. If you’re ready to begin working towards 2021 goals and start developing a new digital product or solution, gathering your team for a Human-Centered Design Lab is a quick and easy way to deliver impact in Q4. 

Why? Using Human-Centered Design Labs help teams develop solutions with greater efficiency by using a framework of collaborative activities focused on the goals of the end-user. In a half-day session, your team could have their next great idea (or three) storyboarded and ready for development. This gives you an opportunity to connect with your team, while delivering the outlines for products and solutions to develop after the session ends.

3. If you have a concept for a new product or solution…

For most organizations, there is no shortage of great ideas, but the process for bringing them to life can be tedious. Rapid prototyping can develop a working model of a product or solution, giving you a tangible output to showcase with stakeholders. 

Our team of expert facilitators, UX designers and SME’s can help fast track your team's ideation session.  Identifying key elements such as user personas, user experience goals among other essential elements are all part of our rapid ideation labs. Whether you are looking to further develop an idea, explore business modeling or the value of an idea, EX3 Labs can help you.

4. If you want to advance diversity and inclusion efforts…

As recent events have proved, fostering a diverse and inclusive company culture requires work. Even as the year comes to a close, there are still opportunities to get your department together in a virtual environment to discuss D&I topics in a structured, gamified manner that encourages people to connect and learn from each other.

In our current climate, building a more thoughtful, more emotionally intelligent workforce is one of the most critical aspects of future planning. Building these soft skills and encouraging coworkers to explore different perspectives may sound like a complicated task, but using immersive learning tools can make it easier to build knowledge that will last. Solutions like Inner-Action™ workshops from EX3 Labs can create impactful learning experiences in just a quarter or half-day session.

5. If automated workflows are part of your 2021 plan…

Now more than ever, business leaders are being challenged to do more with less. Many large organizations have departments and workers engaged in processes that include repetitive, routine tasks that take up huge chunks of time (and therefore, budget). Luckily, infusing automation into workflows is an attainable end-of-year goal.

Business process automation increases efficiency improves the quality of work and reduces costs. As you plan for 2021, it’s not too late to identify areas in your business that could most benefit from automation. Exploring which tasks can be automated all the way through development and implementation, EX3 Lab’s team is here to help create a frictionless, lightweight experience for you and your team.

EX3 Labs is excited to announce our partnership with 1871 to co-host their next Corporate Innovation Summit, which will take place on September 25th.

The semi-annual summit is a special event during which 1871's coporate partners convene to discuss various innovation strategies, lessons learned, and best practices in an intimate and open setting.

The theme for our Fall 2020 Summit is, "EQ Innovation: Driving Innovation with Human-Centered Design and Emotional Intelligence." We will be focussed on helping teams integrate emotional intelligence practices and human-centered thinking into innovation strategey and execution. Whether working through internal, external, or partner innovation, this 100% virtual program will resonate with all those looking for effective ways to integrate design thinking into their growth plans.


8:30 AM | Networking 

9:00 AM | Event Kickoff and Opening Remarks

9:15 AM | Keynote Address

10:10 AM | Interactive Small Group Breakouts - each participant will rotate through all three breakouts

  • Breakout 1 - Inner-Action: Creating a More Thoughtful Company Culture
  • Breakout 2 - Human-Centered Design: Anticipating, Recognizing, and Meeting Customer Needs
  • Breakout 3 - Empathetic Collaboration: Fueling Innovation through Partnership

11:45 AM | Facilitated Group Reflection and Closing Remarks

12:15 PM | Event Concludes

Interested in attending? Email Hello@EX3Labs.com.

“I can’t think of an industry that has a greater impact on the future of our society,” says Phil Nevels, Director of Innovation and Partnerships at Exelon. He joins us on #UnlockingInnovation to share how his company's mission to provide reliable, clean, affordable and innovative energy products is helping to create a brighter and more sustainable future. Phil also provides insight into how his team uses an incremental approach to change within the 34,000 person organization.

RioTinto - “After 132 years of research and development, we have finally cracked the code,” says Paramita Das of Rio Tinto’s carbon-free aluminum process. She joins us on #UnlockingInnovation to discuss her company’s groundbreaking green initiatives among other surprising innovations in mining that impact the daily life of each and every one of us.

“If there wasn’t top-down recognition that change needed to happen, I wouldn’t be here today,” says Mandy Tahvonen. In 2017, she led the launch of Relish Works, an innovation hub backed by Gordon Food Service. She joins us to discuss how she developed Relish Works, and gives advice on how to launch an independent innovation hub.

Rana’s beginnings in non-profit work have informed over 20 years of her work in advertising. In this episode, she shares insights about how the way we absorb content has transformed communication from an afterthought to a core part of every business, and what’s next for an industry that’s constantly changing. Rana also shares how she’s worked with companies to deliver socially impactful ad campaigns-- including a project with Excedrin that aimed to increase empathy for migraine sufferers.

Tastytrade - “We went in with the mission to make finance fun and actionable,” says tastytrade co-CEO, Kristi Ross, on her financial network’s beginnings. On this episode, she shares her career journey and insights on how to create a culture of open collaboration.

To celebrate a year full of fascinating interviews with leading innovators, we've put together a panel of some of the most influential Chicago executives to share insights about the state of corporate innovation and reveal their bold predictions for the future. Join Moderator Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871 and guests Adam Hectman of Microsoft, Leslie Anderson of BMO, Guillaume Deudon of Dow and Mandy Tahvonen of Gordon Foods.

NorthShore University Health System - Infectious Disease Specialist and Vice Chair of Quality, Dr. Nirav Shah, joins us today to explain why the millennial call for on-demand service is changing healthcare, how wearables will improve patient outcomes, and all the ways leveraging predictive modeling helps determine both risk and course of treatment.

Mondelez - On this week’s episode Global Technology and Innovation Lead at Mondelez, Stephanie Miller, explains how she has helped Mondelez “move to a test & learn culture,” how she manages innovation at scale, and why the most successful CPG companies will aim to reignite their current brands through experience.

#UnlockingInnovation is a podcast by EX3 Labs, produced in partnership with 1871 Chicago.