I know we’re all breathing a collective sigh of relief as this year ends, filled with anticipation for what’s to come. And while 2020 didn’t go as planned, it nudged us to remember the things that really matter—both those we never knew how much we’d miss and the ones we’re deeply grateful to hang onto amid the chaos.

For me, I hug my kid a little closer, pull his mask up over his nose, and figure out what outdoor adventure we’re going on next. We’re all making it work, personally and professionally.

Part of making it work here included our recent HCD Virtual event held Nov. 9-12. I’ll let Kristin Zeit fill you in more on that when you turn the page, but it offered our team a lesson in adaptation and working on the fly. For those who joined us on the journey, thank you; for those who couldn’t make it, the editors produced tons of great coverage over those four days that you can check at HCDmagazine.com.

One of the greatest undertakings of HCD Virtual was figuring out how to translate the finale of our conceptual design competition, Breaking Through, to the virtual stage. When we held the competition in 2018, our finalist teams headlined a keynote session, presenting to a packed general session room of attendees who then used a mobile app to vote for their favorite concept. I even got to hand a giant check for $10,000 to the winning team. It was amazing.

This time was different, like everything in life these days. But, honestly, it was a good different. A great one, even. Instead of doing formal presentations, each of our four finalist teams produced 10-minute videos in advance. After sharing those, we brought three team representatives on screen with me to talk about the inception of their ideas and the inspiration behind them. Our attendees were able to use the chat box within Zoom to ask questions and cheer on the teams, and the polling function worked seamlessly to choose the winner. Afterward, we invited attendees to a breakout room to ask the teams their own questions and dive a little deeper into the winning concept.

And as will happen with virtual sessions, we had a heart-stopping glitch—but even that worked out. In the end, Breaking Through was everything I hoped it would be, particularly the videos that offered key insights from the concept creators, stunning visuals, and lots of inspiration. Looking ahead, I anticipate integrating elements of our virtual effort into a future in-person one.

That’s really the best-case scenario for 2020, that the new ideas we’ve been forced to explore will ultimately help inform the better days ahead. I wish you all a happy holiday season, and I’ll see you in 2021.