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Innovation in Times Of Crisis

August 2, 2020

Part of what makes the Covid-19 pandemic so unnerving is that it’s hard to know how the virus will affect any individual. From front-line workers to children, the novel corona-virus has not only taken multitudes of lives but brought the whole world to a pause.

In testing times such as these, we’re thrown head long at multiple challenges, some visible while others deep rooted in our habits.

We often talk about the role of innovation in an age of constant, radical disruption. In testing times such as these where disruption overpowers mankind, it is in innovative strategies that we find solace.

The Covid-19 crisis has forced global businesses to adapt at an unprecedented rate. Companies and their employees have mobilized to respond to the unfolding situation — leaning heavily on technology to restructure long-standing business practices and cope with

new, constantly evolving challenges. Innovation is no longer ‘this might do you good’, but a necessary part of now, happening at a nodal level across organisations.

What these innovators have in common is that they solve problems, problems which are driven by the intense human desire to help, to connect with other people, and be part of the solution.

Pandemics such as these present us with unique conditions that allow us to think and move more freely and create rapid, impactful change. The places where things could be done better or more efficiently become glaringly obvious. All of a sudden, opportunities for innovation are staring at us in the face.

We don’t know our future selves very well, and are often poor at anticipating our future behaviour. One of the biggest reasons for this is that we anticipate our future through our current emotional lens. If we feel drained, or unhappy today, we tend to assume our future decisions will be those of a version of us who is equally drained at that time. One problem this generates is that today’s emotions can have a disproportionate impact on future actions, especially, if today’s emotions are strong. That means that the fear associated with Covid-19 will influence behaviour long after the threat of the virus has gone.

When a health crisis strikes, communities often need to change deeply ingrained habits to protect themselves. Creativity helps us develop effective behavioural change.

Technology has suddenly become the forerunner of the crisis-stricken world. Experiences such as medicine and grocery delivery that was, just months ago, on the margins of use for most people is now into the spotlight of essential use — with the systems stressed, breaking, adapting and evolving to tackle current as well as unforeseen changes in the near future. Innovation is accelerated to respond to demand.

We are running at a greater pace than ever before, experimenting and trying things we haven’t tried before, to keep us working, and to keep us connected. We need to continue to build not only for the customer as the consumer but for the customer as the inciter and navigator of systems and designs built to deliver the best user experience .In a time of stay at home and enforced distancing, through technology, the community, and us as humans are more connected than ever.

A virus, microscopic and invisible to the human eye, has catalysed innovation like never before.

Anjuli Acharya, B.Des. Product Design, Sem. V, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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