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How to innovate through a crisis

January 14, 2021

Using innovation to achieve your mission, while staying true to your values

Innovation is your key out of a crisis, especially today. To stay competitive, organizations have been challenged to look beyond their norm and their push boundaries to innovate.

During Traction on Demand’s two-day TimeToValue Conference, the keynote session, TimeToValue Innovation, explored why investing in innovation must be at the forefront of any successful digital transformation. Chris Bruzzi, EVP of Product Development, Traction on Demand, discussed the challenges and opportunities of innovation with Travis Fabian, SVP Solutions,, while Lara Gilchrist, VP Customer Enablement, Traction Rec, broke down the strategy behind pivoting a business model with Jamie Bruning-Miles, President & CEO, YMCA of San Francisco.

The power of partnerships

Partnerships create space for innovation. They’re essential in helping companies and individuals push each other to places they wouldn’t get to otherwise. This quickly became apparent in light of the pandemic, as organizations worked together to create new platforms and innovations to help companies pivot and ultimately, succeed amidst trying times.

YMCA of San Francisco

The YMCA of San Francisco is an establishment with a historic past as the longest-serving youth organization in the Bay area, serving 14,000 youth a day. Having been in operation since 1853, the YMCA has seen a long list of leaders who’ve embraced innovation to successfully guide the company through challenging times. Jamie Bruning-Miles, President & CEO, YMCA of San Francisco, knew that they must act quickly in the face of the pandemic to ensure their community maintained access to essential services. This meant taking the company through a massive restructure in just one month, in order to act as a center of stability for its patrons.

We needed to look at how to innovate and engage. To not step back, but instead, step forwardJamie Bruning-Miles, YMCA of San Francisco

Working quickly and efficiently with Traction on Demand and, The YMCA went from being location-based to matrix management program-based, allowing them to share their resources and information cross-departmentally in various facilities. They engaged with staff at all levels to ensure the right tools and virtual programs were put in place regarding mental health and wellness for the emerging community.

By pivoting their business model, the YMCA has seen significant benefits, working with partners and cities to build innovative and widely accessible community learning hubs. In doing so, the YMCA has now served over 32,000 individuals in the last eight months through virtual wellness programs offered through Traction Gather. When asked how technology decisions have impacted the YMCA in their strategy and people as a whole, Jamie explained that “the key to success is constantly looking at ways to empower people at all levels to feel like you’re part of a solution. Everyone must have a part in the process to be fully invested.”

Read their full story here.

Traction Thrive

When it comes to exploring new opportunities for innovation, weighing the risk of uncertainty comes into play. The pandemic was a chance for Traction on Demand, Thrive Health and to come together and look at how using technology, scale and innovation, could make an impact on a global scale. Thus, Traction Thrive was created — a critical care resource management solution that became globally available as an open-source application to view, track and allocate medical supplies and PPE, all in real-time.

Travis Fabian, SVP Solutions,, reflects on the three key questions that were essential in exploring before embarking on the Traction Thrive innovation project:

  1. What are we trying to solve? In the case of Traction Thrive, Traction and wanted to build something at a global rapid scale and eliminate barriers, in order to create a framework for inventory of supply and demand.
  2. Are we in a position using available resources (technology, people, time) to be able to solve the challenge we’re given? It’s important for all moving parts to come together to ultimately build a source of trust. By bringing together your best people, partners and most valuable resources, it provides the extra strength needed for a project to succeed.
  3. Do we have a chance to make an impact? Traction Thrive was an opportunity to make a difference on a global scale. Your best chance for success is staying true to your values and doing what is right, which often leads to opportunities, as long as you’re paying attention along the way.
You can have the best team in the world at your fingertips, but you might fail at it if you go alone.Travis Fabian,

Products of pivoting

At Traction on Demand, we’ve taken the approach of starting with a lean canvas when it comes to innovation. This process allows teams to objectively review ideas and validate areas worth investing in. A scoring plan determines if the plan is strategic and if so, examines how urgent it is, how much effort is required and what direct and indirect revenue will be associated with the project.

Through COVID and the switch to a remote working environment, we built a number of tools that helped us to innovate more effectively while we’re apart. We pivoted to fill the gaps, by creating and adapting platforms that could be tailored to meet the needs of our customers and partners:

Traction Enable

Traction Enable is a work management platform that allows us to capture, organize, roadmap and track our innovation activity, just as we do in our customer projects. As we built Enable, we’re sharing reasonable components directly from our learnings with our customer projects. is a sentiment tracking tool that enables employees and managers to log and monitor sentiment, analyze how they use their time, and prevent employee burnout.

Traction Gather

Traction Gatheris a platform to create engagement between clients, partners and internal teams. Originally, the Gather platform was built to help our nonprofit community meet their fundraising goals, despite the limitations brought on by the pandemic. We quickly realized there was an opportunity for nonprofit and enterprise companies alike to use this space, and Gather has evolved into a platform used widely across different business sectors and industries for virtual events, online community hubs, student engagement activities, corporate team building and more.

Diversity of ideas, experience and perception is key to innovation. When innovation is done right, it’s ingrained in everyone in the entire organizationChris Bruzzi, Traction on Demand

Purpose driven future

As we move forward through 2021, the opportunities for businesses to grow and adapt within our ever-changing environment are endless. To gain deeper insights from the TimeToValue Innovation keynote, as well as over 60 Salesforce and time-to-value focused sessions, explore the community here.

Learn more about how to innovate through a crisis

Watch the TimeToValue Innovation keynote, as well as over 60 Salesforce and time-to-value focused sessions now.

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