How an Old Internet Acronym can Revolutionize your Business

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It was those day of the old stuffy internet chat room. You have selected a chat environment and an alias sad you start with the usual “hellos” and “his” and “who’s there” and

what-nots. You watch the conversation going on and follow them or better still you initiate one yourself and watch others engage in the conversation and then you find someone interesting and ask “ASL”


ASL is a subject of identity. It presupposes that having watched and engaged the person or watched the person engage with others you want to deepen the connection with them and investigate them further and so you as. “ASL?” But here is a very different twist on this concept. What does ASL have to do with revolutionizing your business? And the answer is not too far from Elon Musk’s electric car…

But then again maybe we should say Eberhard’s Tesla… In 2003 the little known genius with his friend Tarpenning conceived the idea of what would later be known as Tesla brand of electric cars. From name, to the team, to the first prototype they delivered their dream. But there was a point the dream was almost becoming a nightmare. The nightmare was born of certain frustration.

You see Eberhard understood and was satisfied with the mechanics and the electrics of the Tesla Roadster- their swansong- but was still worried about its appearance? He did not want the Tesla to be perceived as an eco-friendly, save-the-environment type of vehicle that would be endured instead of enjoyed by people. He understood that often perception shaped expectation, and that expectation determined engagement and effort and that effort determines experience and beliefs and those defined reality. A newbie in an established industry may not get a second chance to make a first impression. He needed that impression to be a statement!

People care less about ethos than performance and packaging. Less about it being a good idea than what can this do for me? In fact the success of sooo many fraudsters lies in the creation of a fitting illusion. Appearances matter, packaging maters, form and fashion matters. Especially of your ideas.

Are you an operational staff on the field or in the factory, a manager in charge of your unit helping to ensure that operations meets its targets and quotas, or a human resources manager concerned about organizational effectiveness and the prevailing culture or a business owner worried that the business seemed to have plateaued, or a start-up with a fresh idea right off the block? Your ideas for progress, improvement, betterment, value delivery are very important. And even more important is how they will perform and increase the value of yourself, your unit, your team, your business, your industry and the market effectively and efficiently. But most importantly, how do they appear? How do you package & design your ideas to add value from incremental progress to innovative revolution? How do you take your organization and business from 30-300% improvement in a year or less based on your ideas? Based on that light bulb dancing around in your head? Well here are a few useful tips from an old internet acronym- ASL. Meaning Age, Sex, Location. Let’s explore.

When asked what kind of car he wanted the Tesla Roadster to be Eberhard was at a loss on how to communicate it. His technical jargon was not understood by the designers he was trying to work with. Haven’t we all been there before? Where we are trying to say and communicate something of great value, but we lacked the right words arranged in the right way to help people understand what our ideas?! Frustrating right? This is exactly how Eberhard felt, trapped in cycles of frustration. Until in the fall of 2004 when he met with the legendary Bill Moggridge, cofounder of IDEO who gave him what I call the ASL algorithm to successfully creating or communicating value.

Let’s explore ASL
Age: Bill told to him to consider an axis on one end the classic (like the 1966 Ford Mustang) on the other end the “futuristic” car (like the Toyota Nori or Mercedes Benz Biome)

Sex: On another axis a masculine car (like a Dodge Ram) or a feminine car (like the Mini-Cooper)

Location (or Space or Shape): on one axis a boxy car (like the Hummer) or a curvaceous car (like a classic Ferrari)
This simple guide helped Eberhard crystalize the great but unclear idea in his head into what is today the Tesla Roadster which sold 127 units within 2 weeks pre-production.

So what does this leave you with? What does this have to do with you? Well take the simple concept of ASL & apply it to your organization, your unit, your business, whatever your unique context is. This will help you simplify your idea or concept and crystalize how to present it to your target audience without compromising its quality.

Think it through by age (maturity, timelines seasons). Think it through by sex (how masculine or feminine should it be or is it). Think it through by location (think spaces, think shapes, think areas, think sizes).

The ASL is a basic element of bio-data. It guides doctors when understanding a patient’s health context. Some diseases are more common in certain age groups and the younger a patient is, the less likely it is to be a certain disease or if so, the more certain we are of the cause (and yes, I am a medical doctor by training). The sex of the patient also helps us- imagine a man complaining of menstrual pain (and believe it or not I am aware of such a case - people can be dodgy!). And the location of the patient cues us into social, economic and geographical contexts that can help us understand better what illness we are dealing with (for example the MERS virus currently in about 20 countries but first identified in Saudi Arabia).

That said, I invite you to the ASL challenge where I would be doing a free consultation for the first 50 people to post their top business or organizational challenges here and I would help YOU use ASL to explore it and solve it. Fair enough? Let’s explore and get results!

Read 1703 times Last modified on Monday, 03 August 2015 06:57
Akin Odubitan

He is a medical doctor, award winning entrepreneur and founder of Inspired 1 Network, a business solutions and management consultancy based in Lagos. Passionate about improving and growing value-focused organizations by encouraging them to think unconventionally and iterate swiftly for sustainability, profit and prestige.

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