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There was a terrific little story in the Washington Post the other day about how Ben’s Chili Bowl took an unusual approach in creating for itself an iPhone application - it asked its customers to develop it.

According to the story, there were no mandates or restrictions: “The free-form contest generated a mix of neat ideas, including the winner's concept to let photos taken by patrons with their iPhones be displayed on a digital screen on the restaurant's wall. But several months after its launch, the app is primarily a fun distraction as customers wait for half-smokes and chili burgers.”

But it’s just the beginning. The restaurant “is now looking to supplement the app with a Web site that's optimized to be viewed and used on mobile phones (and) hopes customers can use it to scan the menu and submit orders without standing in line.”
KC's View:
Here, is seems to me, is the key learning from this story:

There is no such thing as a finished product.

There are just steps along the way. Experiments to be conducted. Trials to be run. Mistakes to be made. Opportunities to be explored.

The thing about figuring out what the end game is, is that there is no end game.

I’ve long argued that retail stores should not have prototype stores, because such creations tend to tell a concrete story and suggest that development is complete; there should instead be laboratory stores, where research and development (R&D) into new ways to surprise and delight (S&D) the customer is an ongoing and organic process.

That’s certainly the case when it comes to creating mobile applications or web sites.