Richard Florida, the socio-theorist behind The Rise of the Creative Class, keeps referring to the recession as the reset.
I like that. I really do.
When you are forced to reset a system, everything stops for a moment. There are moments of panic because you know that you may have lost something good. Sometimes a thing you were working on is gone forever. It may be recoverable; you may need to recreate it. But through “resetting,” you start your system anew.
Things that were running that didn’t need to be are closed, and the system focuses only on what needs to be running to be effective.
Isn’t that what most of us have been doing over the last few months? Halting, weighing, focusing, scaling. Clearing out as much as possible, so your organization runs leaner.
Resetting—running with the bare bones of keeping the lights on, machines functioning and keeping customers as pleased as possible. In addition, trying to focus employees who are not performing at their optimal levels, partly due to increased stress from personal economic fears.
At this point, the topic of innovation seems like it may fall on deaf ears, as our focus is so set on the conservative. Yet innovation…is hope. Innovation offers a momentum and energy that says we can be better—we can come back stronger.
Innovations right now are making things better. Many of the most exciting and cost-reducing innovations can be utilized with technologies you already own. Here are eight innovations that can be utilized for free or with very little investment that can greatly enhance your personal life:
- Skype (skype.com). With one free download and a nerdy-looking headset, you can talk computer-to-computer with Skype users all over the world for free. For a small fee, you can communicate with any non-Skype-based phone. On those days you feel extra-social, turn on your webcam and communicate George Jetson-style, watching your friends while you converse.
- Twitter (twitter.com). You can follow moment by moment the thought processes and knowledge intake of the great leaders whom you choose as influencers. You can also follow people who are working on similar projects and collaborate to share new processes, developments and resources. Twitter is also being leveraged to communicate at large events like music festivals or catastrophes like the Australian wildfires to direct crowds moment by moment.
- YouTube (youtube.com) allows you to view content uploaded by millions of users, including snippets of television programs and musical performances. On the serious side, more and more conferences and seminars are moving online—getting their messages out in a vastly superior method. One of my personal dreams is to attend TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design; ted.org). But I don’t have to attend in person, as TED shares presentations online from its annual conference, where inspired thinkers introduce new technologies and monumentally important ideas.
- Need the 411 without the $4.11. Send a text message to GOOGLE (46645) with the business listing you are trying to find (BUSINESS NAME + city + state), and it will immediately text back the top two listings matching your request. The service is free (with unlimited texting plans)—better than dialing 411 and paying $1.95 per call. The same applies if you need to know the weather (WEATHER + city + state) or when and where the movie you want to see is playing (MOVIES + city + state). Need an answer to any question? Text CHACHA (242242) your question and within minutes, the answer will be texted back to you. Yes, I am serious. Try it…I’ll wait.
- Still paying $3.99 for a new release? Renting videos? Are you using Netflix (netflix.com)? In addition to their affordable, delivered-to-your-door DVD plans, Netflix offers streaming video directly to your computer, on demand. Add another piece of technology, and you can run them directly to your television. RedBox (redbox.com) just unveiled a plan to do the same thing—at $1 a movie. Just want to watch some TV shows? Check out hulu.com for episodes you may have missed. Watch your favorites. Any time. For free.
- Facebook (facebook.com) allows users to connect authentically with the people who matter most to them, whether past, present or future. It also provides the ability to schedule and coordinate events, build groups and attract supporters to causes. The time savings is immense…just don’t get sucked in by too many of its playful frills.
- Online Lookups. Yahoo Local and Google have upgraded their search results to provide more information than originally asked for when seeking company services. In addition to just phone numbers, they now list things like previous customer reviews, homepage links and street-level photographs, and even map them out so consumers can make better decisions as to which company to use.
- LinkedIn (linkedin.com) is fueling careers, connections and business projects…for free. This is the number-one online tool for professional reputation, brand and building rapport. In a recent issue of Time magazine, “a job” was listed as the most valuable asset a person can hold right now. I will go out on a limb and disagree with that determination. Right now, with jobs being whisked away, your professional network is the most valuable asset you can hold. Through that properly-built and nurtured asset, you can build the career of your dreams. Utilizing LinkedIn is a must for professionals.
These are just eight innovations—some of which weren’t even viable at this time last year. Most importantly, professionals can take advantage of them with little to no hardware investment or additional resources. In some cases, you may save cash by utilizing the technology you already own.
At the business level, we see the same thing every day. Did you know that most companies only use about 15 to 20 percent of the total capabilities of the technologies that they currently own? It’s true. What innovations can your organization be utilizing during this reset to better serve your customers and strengthen your position in the market? iBi