Crisis Can Drive Innovation

Crisis stimulates innovation, and war, with all of its horror, tends to be a petri dish for innovation. In researching this topic I learned that canned food was developed as a way to safely feed troops during war time, and duct tape was originally invented because the military needed a waterproof tape that could be used to keep moisture out of ammunition cases. I learned that because the English love their tea, and it was challenging to make tea on the battlefield, the tea bag was born. By packaging tea in small bags that could be dropped right into a pot of boiling water, the issue of tea on the battlefield was resolved. And medical progress meant wounded soldiers could survive wounds that would have been fatal in earlier wars, but that often meant living with severe injuries. A New Zealand-born surgeon, Harold Gillies, came up with ways to graft skin, bones, and muscles, paving the way for plastic surgery.  

The Coronavirus pandemic—another kind of battle— has also driven companies across the world to new kinds of innovation.  

Many of us are using a video platform to provide services to clients that we used to do in person.   

We were used to in-person meetings—felt that in many cases they were a necessity—only to find that we can be more efficient, reduce travel and share information easier by using video conferencing.  

We thought that classroom learning was a bedrock to child education (and still believe that in-person interactions are a critical part of child development) only to learn that much can be absorbed by children online.   

And at The Fedcap Group we were looking for creative ways to connect our nearly 4,000 employees across our international footprint.  During this crisis, Java Junction was born—where once a month staff from across our footprint join small Zoom groups to discuss topics such as music, poetry, meals, TV shows, podcasts, gardening, desk exercises and many more.  

I anticipate many more innovations to come.   

I believe that we all need to consider how we redesign workspaces in order to open up programs and services and bring staff back to work.   

I think it will be imperative that we continuously practice some kind of “remote work” fire drill—ensuring that we are flexible and can react on a dime as the need dictates. 

And I believe that we will need to innovate in areas of Talent Acquisition. Forbes, Korn Ferry, McKinsey are all talking about the need to future-proof leadership.  What does it mean to have leaders who are fully prepared for an uncertain future in which turning on a dime may be the norm?