We are seemingly going through the motions of our regular lives, yearning for a return to a sense of normalcy, where getting together with people doesn’t seem so weird. Yet, as incredible as that sounds, we are also undergoing an incredible period of innovation. The most obvious area of innovation is the creation, manufacturing, and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine in record time—but this has not yet produced as much insight into how it was done. I am looking forward to learning as much as possible about the innovation that has gone into this vaccine. One thing is for certain: it was the result of lots of people working toward a common purpose, which was about saving people’s lives, but also about saving humanity’s way of life. This innovation required the ability to experiment, but was also driven by the absolutely necessity of being successful. Such innovation will provide lessons for not only our own UX design community but for many other communities over the years to come.
Whether innovation happens in medicine or in figuring out how to entertain young children who are held within the confines of home all day long, the essence of innovation is the same. What is at the heart of innovation? Solving a problem. Now, in business, many don’t like using the word problem and may prefer challenge or opportunity. But let’s be honest and call it what it is: a problem to solve. Even if we’re just improving something that works well to see if we could make it work better, that’s still a problem to solve. For example, how might we make something even faster, better, and more complete?
When we innovate during a crisis, this also really kickstarts our empathy. When there’s a health crisis, we want to help other people. When disruption touches our lives—whether it’s the fact that we can no longer just walk into a grocery store and get whatever we want or the relative helplessness that COVID-19 has left all of us feeling to some degree—we naturally want to help solve the problem. Some of our motivation comes from the need to take control, some of it is altruistic, and some of it is our desire to achieve a semblance of normalcy.