Lateral Thinking meets Business Model Innovation

random wordsLateral thinking can be thought of as logical thinking but form a different starting point. If you are able to shift your starting point enough before your logical mind gets to work, you can find yourself with surprising results. Hopefully, novel ideas with some value that you just wouldn’t have thought of using regular logical thinking.

The use of random words is one of many techniques designed to disrupt your regular, left brain thinking and enable you to start thinking creatively. In this post, I’ll continue my theme of putting the innovation back into business model innovation by applying the random word technique to business model innovation.

Using Random Words to disrupt Online Bill Payments

In my last post, I had a quick look at the problem of paying bills on time even when you are emailed the bill in the first place. Today I have expanded on the basic idea using the random word “peanut”. Here is a cloud map of the results (you could probably add more, I spent about 3 minutes on this):

random word idea cloud

As shown above we have our random word, a bunch of rapidly generated details, some launch points and a selection of logical thought ideas.  You can go through these steps in turn:

  1. Choose your Random Word: I chose peanut. You can choose any noun, see Michael Michalko for more
  2. Think up some random details: I chose “use raw or cooked”, “comes in a shell” and some other descriptive attributes I could use to start generating launch details
  3. Rapidly list out some launch point details (this is where you will start your logical thinking from): I generated a few under each ‘random detail’ and then chose my favourite as launch points. I underlined them here. For example, under “peanuts very low cost” I underlined “buy by the bag full”.
  4. Make sense of it: use your logical left brain to make sense of your launch point ideas. Taking “buy by the bag full” I figured you could purchase  20 or so one click bill payments at a time.

Expanding on this we might start looking at business models where users give themselves permission to pay a certain number of bills in one click before the site requires further authentication. This could prevent fraud or provide other benefits. As with all forms of business model innovation your next step would be to generate your assumptions and then get out of the building to validate them. The point here is that rather than randomly pivoting and relying on your powers of observation to come up with new ideas to test, you are turbo charging your business model innovation with some deliberate, creative thinking.


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