Crisis spawns Necessity. Necessity fuels Innovation.

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Richard Turere woke up to find the only bull they had was dead. Not just dead, but a gross sight with much of the body eaten up. It was a regular affair in the community, with livestock being eaten up by lions, as they lived next to Nairobi National Park.  He finally had to do something about this, so he invented the famous Lion Lights. A solar panel to charge a battery from an old car. The battery supplies power to an indicator box from a motorcycle, which thru a switch, flashes lights on and off.  This scared the lions away. This solution was patented and used as a common setup across Kenya. Read more about this real life story – Lion Lights.

A crisis threatened the food and existence of the tribe, got solved by technology. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

Iceland, since 2008, the deaths of pedestrians in traffic has increased 41%. That is a mini crisis. Among other things, unsafe road crossings was a major factor. They got creative, with painting the zebra crossing to give a 3D illusion.  This innovative design gave foot travelers the feeling of walking on air, thus slowing down and concentrating on the crosswalk. As for the drivers, it gave a feeling of floating zebra stripes and they too slowed down.  

Give me a turbulent world as opposed to a quiet world and I’ll take the turbulent one. Only the paranoid survive.

By Andy Grove, ex CEO Intel

I experienced a moment of truth on a recent visit out of Singapore. The dynamic covid-19 pandemic situation challenges jobs which involve meeting clients across borders. The government of the country where I was visiting, said no visitors were allowed a day later. With potential impact on flights, I excused myself from the final meeting and headed back a day earlier. The client in understanding the situation, agreed to keep our meeting schedule over the phone. During in-room meetings, we read body language, bring empathy and emotional intelligence to bear. While largely true, these factors at times overshadow other objectives. On the phone these EQ factors were less bearing, and we got to some of the tougher discussions, some amazing insights and alignment! As data networks get more robust and resilient, video conferencing and e-meetings will take a more prominent part of business engagements.  The work from home culture will gain speed and become a way of life even after this pandemic eases out. Those companies that enable and embrace this will be growth engines of the economy. 

Close to a 100 years ago, the single largest profession was farming. The more members in the family the better, better for farm output. Over the years, thanks to technology, automated farming solutions came about. These drastically improved farm output, replacing the need for large families and allowing people the choice of newer professions.  Imagine a world today, if mankind had stayed with bullocks, sickles, hoes and rakes and more hands.  

Fast forward 80 years from now, year 2100. Machines and Humans co-exist in a highly interconnected world. Remote robotic assisted surgeries a common practice. Chip body implants make handphones disappear and make 24×7 health monitoring common. Personal mobility vehicles that can transcend between land and air.  Drones for everything, from delivering packages to law enforcement to emergency services. Today’s cars that run on petrol and horsepower and the workings of a carburetor will be laughed at, and feature in history museums and become collector’s items, as dear as a Picasso edition.   Joy rides to outer space themed around carnivals, weddings, honeymoons and many others. These would be affordable to many, and then maybe a colony on the moon. 

Generation Alpha and gen Beta will experience this. A generation that “owns less”, grows up on their own, while parents globe trot for jobs. The education model changes dramatically, and paces alongside other activities. New avenues for learning will emerge, outside of the traditional classroom styled campus learning. 

Take a peek at what’s happening now, with business practices, that are a window into the future. Subscription model is the new mantra. Software applications like Adobe have long adopted this model, and allow usage when needed. Ride sharing, Car clubs that provide you the flexibility to drive different cars every week or month, vacation rentals are some examples.  Owning a house is not a priority, owning a car or bicycle and even clothes is fading out. Everything shared, subscribed for specific periods. This is the sharing (peer-peer) economy that has started, and will transform over the years. This will drive innovative business practices and ideas, to cater to a generation who will be highly transformative.  Humanity of things lost in the ubiquity of innovation, fueling a seamless society of machines and humans.

Image credits: Pixabay 

1 Comment
  • Raul M. Bhat
    March 29, 2020

    Interesting perspective on the crisis having the effect of speeding up societal trajectories in the direction of mobility and a sharing economy. In working for a tech company that deploys a subscription-based software platform, we take the mold of Adobe albeit serving a smaller customer segment focused on safeguarding network operations. Our a la carte service approach significantly lowers product costs while facilitating business dealings by only requiring minimal end-user configuration.

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