What business you would go to
As owner of a former Milwaukee Avenue business, The Pump Room Boutique, Dulce Ramos would get frustrated by naysayers on the neighborhood listserv who would only express what they did not want to see on Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square, thank you very much. She implored, “Speak up and tell us what business you would go to.” Me, I’d love a book store (yes, I know brick and mortar stores may be all but nostalgia). My neighbor Gail would like to see a coffee shop and more take-out or other inexpensive dining options. Jennifer, who frequents Milwaukee Avenue, would like to see a wine bar sans T.V.s on every wall, and a thin crust pizza place (Chicago’s known for deep dish and stuffed), and maybe an antiques store or consignment shop.
But maybe we’re limited by what we know. What if we created some really innovative business idea? something really unique? something we don’t even know exists? That, game readers, is what I’m asking you to do.
I have a curiosity for many things, so my readings cover much more than planning related topics. One of those is The Berkun Blog, on management and creative thinking. Back in April, Scott Berkun posted a “Report from Web 2.0 expo” that included slides from a workshop he conducted there: “How to Innovate on Time.” In the slides is an innovation exercise that I’ve adapted here.
Take a look at the 20 photos below (you can click on the photo mosaic and then zoom in for a better look) and choose a word that comes to mind when you look at each one (hint: it’s helpful to include some verbs). Make a list of those words (count left to right, top to bottom). Go ahead and do that before reading on.
Then develop a new service, a product, or any type of business based on at least three of the list of 20 words you came up with. In the comments section, please share the potentially crazy business idea you created. Tell us what three words, what photos they correspond to (count left to right, top to bottom), and what is the innovative service/product/business.
In the Berkun exercise, I chose 40 words at random and worked from those. Here I chose 20 words, then did a Flickr search for the words, but you pick the words the photos convey to you. If the 40-word approach works better for you, by all means use it and share the three words you used to create your business idea.
When I did the Berkun exercise, the three words I chose were radio, ritual and play. The product I came up with was a radio/audio system that you program to your moods and daily rituals; it’s voice activated so you can play music or audio according to your whims and routines on command. Crazy, right? Maybe not so much: For example, not that I’m much of a cook, but there’s something about classical music with horns that I somehow find inspiring for cooking. To wind down at night, I could speak “nighttime” for the local lite music station. Etc.
In a continuation and narrowing of the exercise, in coming up with something specifically for my place of employment, the three words I chose were radio, boast and goal. I came up with an internet radio show boasting of events and accomplishments and conversing in depth on policies and goals of the municipality where I work.
See the potential? Share the potential.