Amy Rees Anderson

To Innovate Does Not Necessarily Mean To Expand

“To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify.” – M. Russell Ballard

Being in lockdown has required companies and service providers to innovate in order to keep their businesses alive. For so many years everyone has looked at growth as the indicator of innovation. Yet as the quote reads, innovation doesn’t always require expansion – innovation can mean to simplify. Here are a few ways this current pandemic is forcing innovation by simplicity:

Historically, Universities around the world have relied on big fancy buildings on campuses as a tool to attract new students. But this pandemic is forcing Universities to innovate and deliver their classes to students virtually. This is an innovation of simplicity that will be far more scalable and far less expensive. For every building a University is able to avoid building they will also avoid the associated electrical bills, gas bills, janitorial bills, insurance bills, etc, thus resulting in far less cost to run the University and that savings can then be passed on to students in the form of much cheaper tuition rates. It’s a win/win for all.

Historically Companies have relied on large offices to house their employees with the associated leasing expenses to carry. Yet now companies are discovering that many of the jobs are able to be performed from an employees home, something they likely wouldn’t have even considered were this lockdown not forced upon them. Coming out of this pandemic I think we will see many companies have learned a lesson in how to innovate through simplicity and they’ll continue having many employees work from home in the future.

Even as families we are figuring out how to innovate toward simplicity. We are finding that connecting as family doesn’t require holding a big expensive family reunion where we all fly somewhere to be together in one location as it can be done far more simply with a group video conference call (Zoom works great). Everyone in the family can jump on the video call from their homes to come together. I grew up in a family of 10 children, each now having their own spouses and children and all being spread out across the country, so we’ve only been able to hold one family reunion in the last 20 plus years. But our desire to connect during this pandemic drove us to innovate toward simplicity and we all jumped on a video conference call together from our homes and after walking my parents through how to join the call we held a a virtual family reunion and it was an absolute riot! I haven’t laughed that hard in a very long time…it was a blast!

I think we would all admit that as individuals we are especially learning how to innovate toward simplicity. We are figuring out that many of the things we have done in the past were more “nice to do’s” rather than “have to do’s” as we’ve adapted to home confinement. And we are finding that time with our loved ones matters far more than we used to pay attention to back when our days were spent mostly away from home. Simplifying our lives makes for stronger and happier relationships with those we hold most dear.

Perhaps this pandemic is just the kick in the pants we all needed to realize that the best way to innovate is to simplify!

~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the newly released book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )

1 Comment

  • Heather Vogeley says:

    It is interesting that online degrees have been considered of lesser quality than traditional in-class education. I have never agreed with this. So, I am happy that we are changing our views. It is unfortunate that this change has to be forced upon us.

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