Edmund L. Andrews, from Stanford University, wrote that “The Lingering Impact of Lost Innovation” will cause hidden damage in the form of lost productivity. We will be immeasurably poorer in 5 and 10 years’ time from the Coronavirus pandemic’s impact on research, development, and new ideas.
First, there is the immediate pause in almost all research activities. That time will be simply lost.
Second, investors and companies will be more cautious about future spending due to future uncertainty. It’s hard to invest in the future when returns are uncertain.
Third, at some point Congress will need to raise taxes to cover the stimulus spending. That too will have a hidden cost on companies and their ability to spend on innovative activities.
Fifth, our society will change as more people now work remotely. It will take a long time, if ever, before we get back to the completely in-person ways of doing business as we had before.
So what can be done?
I argue that we should do at least the following items:
First, invest in people. Invest in education (general knowledge), training (specific skills), and personal growth (changing mindsets). The government should invest massively in helping people upskill themselves so that they can be more personally productive in the recovery.
Second, create an inspiring call to arms and invest in the shared language of innovation. This is related to investing in people, BUT at a national and international level, we should call upon entrepreneurs, innovators, and everyday citizens to consider it their duty to think innovatively.
Third, clear the bureaucratic clutter. Now is a great time to look at our laws, rules, and cultural norms. Let’s get rid of arcane practices like the rule that hospitals must fax data. Throughout our society, the more we loosen the reins on what’s possible, the more people and companies will be freed to innovate.
Fourth, invest in infrastructure. Ultimately, bandwidth, transportation, and technology systems are important enablers of innovation. Let’s get on with it!
If you are reading this and want to know where to start, we offer an online program in Innovation Thinking. This program introduces you to the language of innovation and teaches you very practical innovation tools. Everyone can innovate; will you take the time to learn how?