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Head Office: 31 Rochester Drive,
Level 24,
Singapore 138637

Telephone: +65-94522069
Reconceiving Innovation for Covid-19

Reconceiving Innovation for Covid-19

Covid-19 has brought new sense for many companies into the old cliché that a crisis is merely an opportunity in disguise. Digital businesses like Amazon and Zoom were struggling not only with incumbents before the pandemic but also with traditions that refused to die, such as handshake and clearance sales. Today, Covid-19 has disrupted the old ways, leaving much less competition and far more room to innovate for these already cutting-edge companies. There's no wonder that Amazon has recruited 175,000 frontline staff as it prepares for significant growth.

Of instance, one company's adversity fertiliser is the fertilizer of another. For instance, the airline industry is struggling to adapt commercial aircraft interiors to social distancing requirements. For decades, in fact, airplane seating has looked almost the same. And the reasons for that are strong. Also, slight changes in the internal structure may have significant safety effects, weight distribution, etc.

Or take the hospitality industry in mind. Cities around the world are filled with nearly indistinguishable hotels that cater for foreign business travellers. The major hotel chains have, if they remain unchanged, nothing to sell the staycation crowd that represents their best hope of survival, with cross-border flights largely grounded and unlikely to return to their previous scale until a vaccine is identified. They cannot compete with the escapist, highly Instagram able hip-boutique property or Airbnb rental experiences.

Old-school established parties would have to embrace technologies that lie well beyond their long-established comfort zone to tap into the remaining reservoirs of demand. There are dynamic and multi-faceted adjustments that elude solutions powered entirely by technology. As an example, by aiming their best-in - class algorithms at a query, Amazon can gather real-time responsiveness in unpredictable conditions. By comparison, players in today's most highly disrupted industries do not have the exact data they'd need to train algorithms properly, because they're new to the markets they're pushed into. They need to go back to the Innovation drawing board.

In short, design and innovation challenges are now facing several incumbents. Design is far more than what things look like, as anyone who has taken a design thinking course knows, it is the comprehensive process, tools and culture through which businesses become great at developing novel and useful solutions to a whole host of problems, even those that have not yet been discovered. More than just a way of thinking, it is a problem-solving discipline which emphasizes user-centeredness, creativity and agility.

Three innovation skillsets, complicated by Covid-19

Companies: particularly those beleaguered incumbents – are now more than ever crying out for the skillset of innovative problem solvers. What exactly is the skillset? I have identified three key components over several years of study and collaboration with the design professionals:

User-cantered "Infighting": the ability to transform user feedback into opportunities for creativity. Notice that this applies to both internal and external users. Designers and innovative problem solvers will translate these ideas into new fields in a specific way to attract consumers while improving productivity and accessibility.

Creative Ideating: The desire to overcome the status quo by pursuing completely different options strategically. Dreaming up new solution directions (which is at the heart of the innovation phenomenon) is fundamental for making it easier for the consumer.

Agile iterating: the opportunity to lead a series of fast and inexpensive (in other words, agile) tests based on input to test and refine ideas. This requires a degree of curiosity and comfort that is uncommon among business leaders with complexity and learning from failures.

With Covid-19 these three elements are affected by additional complications and challenges.

User-cantered analysis is now more challenging because user habits are evolving rapidly; while new habits are emerging, some old habits are put to rest. Many of these improvements can be reversed once a vaccine becomes available, such as cessation of travel and avoidance of excessive shopping in retail stores. It is possible that others will outlast the crisis. In other words, user journeys are being updated in nearly all industries, and hard-won lessons from the past have effectively been made obsolete.

Drafting new user journeys could involve imagining new scenarios and extrapolating from analogous circumstances from other sectors because, given social distancing constraints, performing the traditional empathic observation of target users becomes increasingly difficult. In addition, engineering teams are increasingly relying on videos to capture the contexts of the users they represent and discover information about those settings and user interactions remotely, as well as augmented and virtual reality.

Within safe spaces, innovative thinking thrives where ideas can bounce and innovators can work closely with each other. Covid-19 has made it almost difficult to congregate in person with innovative teams. This poses the question of how high-quality partnerships can be brought online. How will creative teams work together intensively without reaching a wall of 'Zoom fatigue' being the latest occupational threat for professionals of all stripes?

Imagining a virtual wall of sticky notes on which to draft, exchange and discuss ideas can provide ways to get innovative ideation sessions going by utilizing technology that allow real-time interaction. Innovators should take advantage of individual remote ideas accompanied by community work and debate.

Big difficulties but even bigger innovative opportunities

There is a great deal of barriers to combining business and design, to be sure. And Covid-19 could tend to make it worse on the surface. Remote work robs the face-to - face engagement of creative problem solvers, which greases co-creation and experimentation. Furthermore, collaborating with designers threatens to devalue communication digitally rather than physically. Despite the potential advantages of emerging digital technology and new tools for digital collaboration, it's more difficult for skill transfer to take place in the modern world.

Covid-19 is potentially the biggest spark for progress the world has seen in a long time, considering these tactical difficulties. Indeed, progress after the pandemic depends on business leaders using this extraordinary moment to bring about a step-change in three innovation dimensions:

Human-centricity: Covid-19 forces all companies to place people at the forefront in order to make their consumer experiences safe and meaningful. This gives businesses great possibilities to refocus on the customer rather than processes or technology. Business leaders need to use empathy to get a better understanding of circumstances from the viewpoint of the consumer.

Creativity: Covid-19 questions the status quo in all sectors, everywhere. Such a drive away from conventional solutions and trends could be used by leaders to gain access to a blank canvas that stimulate creativity. Covid-19 encourages leaders to stretch their imaginations and discuss ways to address old and new problems.

Agility: Since Covid-19 has accelerated the pace of change in every area of the market, it offers a fantastic opportunity to build an agile, secure and brave organizational climate that can respond to such changes quickly and cost-effectively. Such adaptability to swift change is an imperative that leaders can urgently prioritize.