Pressure Makes a Diamond (part 1): Ways We Work, Learn, & Connect. Predictions for Innovations that Will Emerge from the COVID-19 Crisis

Times of crisis have produced innovation gems, from miniaturization of CT 3-D scanning and the launch of Meetup out of 9/11 to the founding of Slack and Github out of the 2009 financial crisis. We can expect the COVID-19 crisis to be no different. From a design thinking perspective, everyone has become an extreme user whose needs are more acute and easier to see. The duct tape we use to hold our professional and personal lives together is unraveling and revealing inefficiencies and weak joints that need repair. These points of friction point to new opportunities for innovation, invention, and product development.

I call this one, A (brain)storm is brewing.

Ways we Work, Learn, & Connect

Remote work

While work-from-home (WFH) options have been growing in popularity, stay-at-home (SaH) orders from state and local governments moved WFH from a nice to have to a must for everyone. The at-scale pilot we are all participating in is certain to highlight what work can be effectively done remotely versus where face-to-face meetings are still an imperative. The collective brain felt that some of these changes will be here to stay forcing human resource departments to reconsider their WFH policies and perhaps even lead to a reduction in business travel in the long term.

Distance Learning

Similar to WFH, issues of bandwidth and gaps in appropriate digital tools are present in distance learning. Teachers and parents have swiftly pieced together creative solutions to allow for peer-to-peer learning and self-driven learning opportunities.

How we connect with each other

As an extrovert who values physical contact, SaH orders may be more deadly for me than COVID-19. The hive mind also had a lot to say about social connections today and moving forward. They shared examples of Zoom date nights with friends they haven’t connected with in a decade and mused about why it took a global crisis to motivate the re-connection. I heard about how platforms are moving to create alone-together moments, like simultaneous movie viewing or Instagram’s release of a tool to scroll together.

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Part 2: How Business Operates

I teach innovation & entrepreneurship at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Reformed chemist. I believe in the power of science to change the world.