As the world is trying to recover from the pandemic, there are some lessons to be learned from the best practices. Let’s see what kinds of innovations came out of this chaos.

When it comes to creative problem solving, one of the most popular models is Osborne and Parnes’ Creative Problem Solving diagram which puts emphasis on the definition of goals and definition of the problem.

It looks like not many people knew exactly what the biggest problem to tackle was. These people were concerned about the masks naturally, and there was a shortage of toilet paper despite this woman’s unique way of sampling, but the ventilator was probably not the biggest problem people had to fight against.

Some innovators turned snorkels into ventilator systems, some tried to use animal ventilators for veterinarians, some tried to convert the bag valve mask, the little ballon-like hand ventilator, into portable ventilators but at the end of the day it was a wrong focus. It turned out the ventilators were damaging the lungs of the coronavirus victims and nowadays nobody is talking about them.

Lesson 1: People often fail identifying the most important problem

If we look at how countries are dealing with the pandemic, we see that there are 3 areas of focus which are Control, Treat and Prevent. For vaccinations there were a lot of innovations. The most well known ones are starting production of multiple alternatives before testing efficacy, and asking competing vaccine companies to collaborate by using each others’ placebo samples which would save a lot of time and money.


For treatment, one of the things stood out was “honing” as cited in the Washington Post article. Which says just having the patients lay to their right side allowed them to breath easily and was more effective than many other methods the staff tried.

To control the spread of the virus countries urged their citizens to pay special attention to social distancing and sanitization.

 

At the same time there were 3 creative solutions did not necessarily require a technological breakthrough, One was killing the bacteria by using existing UV lights. Another one was killing the viruses on the protective equipment by simply microwaving the gloves and uniforms. A Japanese airconditioner manufacturer just added a system to kill the viruses while ventilating and another company just put a piece of fabric on the cover of face masks which killed the bacteria by any contact.

Lesson 2: Sometimes solutions do not require technological breakthroughs

When it comes to looking for solutions, people tend to focus on getting necessary tools faster and cheaper. Sometimes it is better to focus needs rather than producing missing tools. At this point, using the past solutions for similar problems or utilizing different ways of “distribution” of solutions can come handy.


For instance, from the very beginning people knew that the vaccination was the only reliable solution and started working on it. There were also some creative solutions such as starting the production before testing the product by accepting the fact that some vaccines would be thrown away. Another bold approach was sharing the volunteer subjects for the placebo tests among the competing vaccine makers which was unheard of. But most researchers focused on making traditional syringe-based vaccines and keeping them in glass containers instead of thinking about other ways of distributing the vaccine. A group of researchers from the Pittsburg University on the other hand just focused on band-aid type of vaccines and came up with the simplest and one of the most feasible solutions.

Similarly, while most tests were conducted by swab samples, a researcher from Israel just thought of using a breathalizer-like test which is one of the best test solutions so far.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Israel invents one-minute coronavirus breath test<br>The invention of an instant COVID-19 breathalyser could have enormous implications for air travel. <br><br>Image : Professor Gabby Sarusi from Ben-Gurion University shows off the instant coronavirus breathalyser. <a href=”https://t.co/fzAeJkUYw5″>pic.twitter.com/fzAeJkUYw5</a></p>&mdash; IndSamachar News (@Indsamachar) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Indsamachar/status/1275961363735564288?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 25, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Researchers Announce Promising Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate<br>The drug is delivered through a Band-Aid-like patch — not a needle. <a href=”https://t.co/VRMzU1m4CI”>https://t.co/VRMzU1m4CI</a></p>&mdash; sandy beech (@sandybeech4) <a href=”https://twitter.com/sandybeech4/status/1246298607004745729?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 4, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

 

 

Lesson 3: Use old solutions for different problems to find new solutions to the new problem

The worst impact of the pandemic was on the travel industry. The creative solutions provided in the industry relied on two things: 1-To communicate that the travel destinations are clean, safe and contactless (in the near future) 2- Provide cash support for the hotels and restaurants (at the moment).

Some hotels wanted to turn this into an opportunity by offering contactless check-ins, only for those who downloaded the hotel’s app. A hotel keychain manufacturer started making virus-killing plastic room keys. And the roomba-like cleaning robots started appearing in the news.


Virtual experiences and tours became more common. For instance our company moved most of our experiences online by using ZOOM.

Many sites started offering mass discounts for future experiences and ran fly-now-pay-later campaigns.

Crowdfunding campaigns were organized for dozens of restaurants and inns, where people could buy future meals with big discounts.

Some hot springs even tried to mail the water in containers for the natural public bath experience at home.

There were industry support groups soon established on social media that were followed by many business owners and widely covered in the media. Most notably, the the PPP loan tracker group from the US, bankruptcy tracker page, restaurant association  support group .

However, it appeared that only very early campaigns were successful and got the free PR credit.


Lesson 4: Crowdsourcing and social media support groups are good for innovation (mostly for early movers, not followers)

 

 

 

At the end of the day,  it is difficult to find startups that turned this crisis into an opportunity, except the internet, communication and healthcare companies.

It looks like governments still had the biggest impact on the markets with more than 7 trillion USD stimulus packages.

And the boldest approach was taken by the Greek ministry of tourism. Around mid-April, the Greek government passed a law allowing tourism entities to offer vouchers instead of refunds which probably have secured millions of dollars of worth of reservations.


So the innovation award goes to the Greek government!!!

Lesson 5: Changing existing laws and regulations may be one of the best solutions

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