What's the Big Idea?

Readers pick the Fast Forward list's 101st item.

In November, our Fast Forward 2005 list featured 100 ideas, people, and trends that will change the way we do business this year. We left the 101st item up to readers so they could tell us what we missed. Here are four ideas that stood out.

Consumer Pro-Activism

Going beyond traditional boycotts and group buying, consumers will band together in new forms of consumer unions. One such small effort, rallying around the Declaration of the United Consumers, encourages people to determine which companies they do business with based on their spiritual, moral, and ethical beliefs. It also proposes that consumers create their own businesses when an alternative is needed.

Pop-up Products

Pop-up retail — short-term retail experiments meant to garner buzz — made our list, but readers reflect that products will have an increasingly shorter shelf life as well, as companies accelerate product development and fight to become part of the blur on store shelves. For example, in the beverage market, Fast Company reader Bret Annis suggests that beverage giants such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo will abandon the one-flavor cola wars and begin to develop specialized, limited-time-only flavors and products aimed at disloyal consumers. Efforts such as Sprite ReMix and Mountain Dew Pitch Black are leading indicators in that direction. At the same time, new variations of sodas will continue to be developed. One example is Zico, a beverage that is 99.9% coconut water, has no fat or added sugar, contains more potassium than a banana, and hydrates like a traditional sports drink.

Cleaner — and Leaner — Airports

Jim Starry's environmentally friendly StarPort project and Neva Associates' noise-control technology could combine to reinvent the airport. Starry's plan is estimated to reduce fuel use by 56%, decrease land use by two-thirds, cut costs in half, and increase revenue by 400%. And Neva's sound insulation reduces the noise generated by planes. Both could contribute to the construction of transportation hubs located closer to major metropolitan centers, rather than on the edge of densely populated areas.

Take Time for Time-Outs

Business "huddles," stand-up meetings where leaders discuss topics that require everyone's input and important decisions get made quickly, will go to the next football metaphor level. At Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown, New York, doctors participate in what they call a "time out" before beginning an operation. "We assure all things are in order — right site, right patient," emails COO Bertine McKenna. "When we are about to begin a big implementation, we physically step back and take time to make sure we are ready. Often when you start a new program, the timeline is so intense there is no time to pause before you fast-forward."

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