A site doesn´t have to have anything to with personal productivity to provide great insights into personal productivity. Take UniqueAuction.com, for example. Like so many sites out there now, it is an auction site, but this one has one major twist. The highest bid doesn´t necessarily win. In fact, a bid much lower than the highest bid could be victorious. The winning bid is the highest unique bid. You can bid as many times as you want and you can see the bids that other people have made, but if your bid is the same as someone else then it will not win.
Make sense? Don´t worry, it didn´t to me at first, either. Let´s look at an example. One of the items that is up for sale is a 1GB iPod Nano MP3 player. The retail price is about $150, but the highest unique bid at this point is $1.51. That means that, if the auction were to end right now, someone would own the iPod for about 1% of its retail price. How in the world is that possible? Well, the owners of the site have implemented a very interesting idea. Each bid costs $2 to make, or $1 if you are a Platinum member. There have been, up to the point that I write this, 129 bids made on the iPod. That means that, at the very minimum, the site has made $129 in bidding fees and more than likely considerably more than that. By the end of the sale they will have almost certainly brought in more in bidding fees than the retail price of the device, meaning that they can actually make a profit by selling the iPod at 99% off of retail. Items for sale range all the way from very small items to a 2006 Lexus SUV with a retail price of $80,000 and a current highest bid of $808. With five days left in the bidding they have already had more than 36,000 bids.
Here´s what excites me so much about that idea — it turns "the norm´ on its ear. It is an entirely different way to sell items and make a profit than we are used to, but it appears to be successful. Instead of trying to compete as a small site against eBay and the other giants, UniqueAuction.com redefined the game so that they could be more than competitive.
On a personal productivity level, the underlying idea there is so crucial. We spend so much time doing the things that we do. When we feel overwhelmed we often try to make small changes or quick fixes to alleviate the pressure. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don´t. Often, a better approach would be, like the creators of this site did, to take an entirely different look at our tasks to see if we can fundamentally change the way we get the same, or better, results.