Unintended Consequences

2-40 people

During this workshop, participants explore the unforeseen effects of technology and utilize them to generate fresh business prospects. It delves deeper than the conventional comprehension of emerging technologies, urging attendees to uncover unforeseen possibilities and how they can be leveraged. For instance, Instagram was initially designed as a digital photo album for mobile devices, but due to the innate human need for social connection, it has the potential to impact profound aspects of our lives, such as the grieving and healing process, as demonstrated by the author's daughter. This workshop can be conducted both in-person and online.

Workshop steps


Divide the participants into small groups of 3-5 members (either in-person or through online breakout rooms). Begin the activity by sharing the hamster story from "What is the nature of grieving in the Internet age?" or have participants read it themselves. Clarify that the workshop aims to use the concept of "unintended consequences" as a foundation for creating innovative business ideas.


Allow groups to spend five minutes generating a list of at least five well-known technologies or businesses, such as Netflix, Instagram, Google Maps, etc. To make it more challenging, ask participants to focus on technologies primarily used by demographics different from their own. Write down each idea on a separate sticky note.


Next, instruct participants to brainstorm: for each technology or business, they should come up with at least three unexpected outcomes. For instance, Netflix was meant to be a simple and user-friendly streaming service, but it resulted in habits like binge-watching. Motivate the participants to think innovatively and emphasize that there are no correct answers. Request them to jot down their thoughts on sticky notes (one idea per note). After 10 minutes, ask each group to present their ideas.


In smaller teams, brainstorm new business models to address each unintended consequence. For instance, Netflix could offer free viewing for users who watch just one episode daily, or charge extra for binge-watching. Remember, no idea is a bad idea during this process. Even if a new model seems inferior, it could become relevant if the current model is disrupted by competitors. After 12 minutes, reconvene and have each team present their most intriguing new business models to the group.


Request the participants to ponder on the most surprising and feasible new business model, and explain why. Additionally, encourage them to consider what this activity reveals to them about idea generation and innovative business models.

Need help with this workshop?

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Anna Lundqvist
UX Designer and AI Ethics Strategist guiding innovative product development and educational workshops
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Eddy Salzmann
Design lead and team culture enthusiast driving products and design processes
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Ola Möller
Founder of MethodKit who has a passion for organisations and seeing the big picture
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