Paper: As a colleague of mine once said, “paper creates offices”. He was right. We need it, but in its current form it’s wasteful and horrible to organize and share. It needs to be erasable, and self-scanning. Kind of like an Etch-a-Sketch with memory and better resolution. Surely we can do better than this ancient product, and save a million forests in the process.
Offices: They’re places to store paper (see above) and (not very good) places to hold meetings. They hamper mobility, face-time with clients, waste a ton of time getting to and from them, cost a lot, are hard to reconfigure, and are unhealthy. Our office belongs in a (small) briefcase. Someone please make it so.
Meetings: We live in a mega-channel universe, yet we go to meetings that have only one channel. Absurd. We need an alternative that allows for multi-tasking and being in several plaves (virtually) at once. We need a fast-forward button for meetings. And an off switch.
Employment Contracts: There used to be two-way loyalty between employers and employees. Then there was someting to contract, some give-and-take. Not today. You’re likely to keep your hairdresser or your dentist longer than your employees these days, and you don’t need a contract with them. So, either scrap them, or put something interesting, and valuable, to both parties in them. Like an ability to draw on future salary today, when you really need the cash (kind of like a retainer). Or a clause on residuals. Massages. A volunteerism commitment. Whatever. And don’t let lawyers write them.
Job Titles (& Business Cards): The business card needs a bar code or a mag stripe so we can just zap it into our address books. That will free up the front of the card for stuff more interesting than addresses and phone numbers. Like miniature art. Favourite recipes. Haiku. And if you have to have job titles, why can’t they be what you really do, like “Helps lawyers find precedents about intellectual property and information technology”?
Reintermediation: This is the longest useful word in English. It means adding back a service that was eliminated by ‘self-serve’, but in some new, interesting, valuable way. Like car-hops instead of drive-throughs at fast-food restaurants, just for the nostalgia.
Convenience: We make things harder than they need to be, precisely when we have the least time. We need hairdressers that come to you. Restaurants in movie theatres. Things that save time, and let you do two things at once.
Clothes: Talk about high-maintenance. They should be self-cleaning like other appliances. Change colour at the flick of a switch. And modular, so you can add sleeves, make shorts into long pants. Self-adjusting. And no wrinkles please. And with practical stuff, like zippers that go all the way around. And cod-pieces. And solar panels for temperature control.
Mass Transit: Mass transit has lots of people, so it should be fun, like cocktail parties, raves and art openings. We need live music. Theatre. Coconut shrimp. Wine tastings.
Accommodation: In both senses of the word. Hotels where every room is different, an adventure, configurable, connected, portable. Restaurants that allow pets, bicycles, naps.
Books and Magazines: The technology is still pretty mundane. Needs cut-and-paste capability. A sound-track. And waaaay too sequential. Bulky. The shape’s a problem, too.
Sex: OK, this has nothing to do with business, but it still desperately needs innovating. I mean, vibrators for women — who designed these things? And the movies — how can anyone make sex this boring and unreal? And reality shows, they’re all about voyeurism, so why not stop pussyfooting around and actually show the sex? Some more imagination is also needed in Victoria’s Secret, aural sex (with and without phones), lingerie, car design, and ‘furniture’. Hmmm, maybe it does have something to do with business.