Today, I was asked to appear as a guest blogger on the Aalto ES blog.
Check out today’s entry there!
When you have defined your problem, you need to solve it. Basically, you have two options:
- Solving it with incremental improvements. Just making it better in some respect.
- Solving it with a radical innovation. Forget the current problem and redefine it.
Both of these models can create a business that serves the customers. But if you can do something the radical way, there is a good change that it will also be something remarkable.
Our solution is a radical one
We’ve turned the problem of lost property upside down. Instead of concentrating the lost property to a single point, we want to share the responsibility in a social way.
People know how frustrating it is to lose something
The current business models in the field are about making money. If you call a lost property office, you’re charged a premium rate per minute. If you’re lucky enough to find your stuff back you have to pay the office storage/handling fees. The current system creates value primarily to the companies not to the customers.
People have the same problem everywhere
People don’t lose their stuff only in Finland. It’s tempting to think we’re working with a global business. Saying it is global is obviously self-deception. People find stuff locally, not globally. Same goes for losing stuff. But a dream shouldn’t be local, it should be global. Our dream is to revolutionize the way people think about lost property.
We want to be local on a global scale. The word is Glocal.
The Internet is a silly place. Most people do silly stuff in the Internet at least most of the time.
I’m not an exception.
If you’re building a community in the Internet, the very least you should do is to think about your own behavior. Would you use your own service if it was designed by someone else?
Here’s my current contribution to the humanity via Internet communities:
- Geocaching and Geocaching.fi Wiki. According to my Geocaching.com profile page (needs login), I’ve found 3,099 caches and hidden 99 of them. In the Wiki, I’ve written dozens of articles and made hundreds of edits. None of this work really has any value outside the Geocaching community. And quite frankly, some of it doesn’t have value in it either.
- EuroBillTracker. This is a community that probably makes the least sense of anything I’ve done. According to my profile I’ve manually entered the serial numbers of 4,048 euro bills to the system. 117 of which were also entered by another member of the community.
- OpenStreetMap. According to my profile page, I’ve posted around 500 change sets to the community edited map. If an average set is about 20 changes that would make my grand total around 10,000 edits. Most of my edits have been manually copying features from aerial maps to be used on OpenStreetMap.
- Wikipedia. I’ve done a few changes in both the Finnish and English Wikipedias. The contributors of Wikipedia have done a really good job and nowadays the articles mostly make sense. That’s probably why I never became a huge contributor.
- PartioWiki. According to my profile in PartioWiki, I have contributed around 500 edits. I basically concentrated on correcting spelling and grammatic errors in the articles.
It would be easy to say that all of this “contribution” has been utter waste of time.
But I refuse to say that.
I’ve started this project partly because I’ve seen what the Internet is capable of. Ultimately, every great Internet community is about something silly. You have to at feel first-hand what a community feels like. If you’ve never done anything silly yourself, you might be limiting your thinking to the things that aren’t silly enough to be remarkable.
On the sixth day of my project I wrote about the power of making a movement. Not only is making a movement a powerful way to achieve something but it could in fact be the only way to achieve anything remarkable.
Same applies in physics – everything is based on movement.
It could be that everything we’ve been taught about marketing and business in general is rubbish. It all comes down to the fundamental question: what is remarkable enough to create a movement around it?
Mitch Joel has crystallized the importance of creating a movement in his 2009 blog entry titled “Start a movement”. The basic message in his post is simple. Do something unique and simple enough that the others can follow.
Everyone should know the type of movement they are trying to create with their actions. If I’m asked what I’m trying to achieve, my answer is:
To turn helping others into a movement.
Once you know the movement you’re trying to create, suddenly the things you do are important. Like Joel put it:
“Starting a blog is boring. Starting a movement is exciting.”
Do you know the movement you are working towards?