“There’s a flip side to everything,” the saying goes. Or, as Derek Sivers makes clear in his two-minute TED speech, “Whatever brilliant idea you have or hear, the opposite might also be true.” Take just two of your own minutes, and think about it: What is the flip side of your business? How can turning your world upside down, even as a simple thought experiment, offer unexpected inspiration?

You can watch Derek Sivers himself demonstrating the truth behind this old saying, here.

The minds behind the book Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, suggest we think about our businesses this way as well. For example, if you were in the restaurant business, try imagining what your business would become if you didn’t have menus? It’s not such a far-fetched idea: here in Chicago there is a highly successful restaurant called Next that doesn’t use menus — and sells tickets rather than making reservations! (I can hear the Zagat reviewers gasping about now.)

What would (could) your business look like if you no longer included what you now believe to be an essential element of your product or service? In other words, what is the flip side to your business?

Elisa K. Spain

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