By Karen Axelton

photo elevatorYou’ve perfected your “elevator pitch”—the one- or two-sentence description of your business that’s short enough to deliver in the space of an elevator ride. But now, in the era of Twitter and text messaging, the elevator pitch is old hat. Now, you need to be able to sum up your business in one word.

That’s the contention of Harvard Business Review blogger Umair Haque, who dubs this one-word description the “dumbwaiter pitch.”

Haque, who often asks startups, entrepreneurs, corporations and investors to create dumbwaiter pitches as an exercise, says the goal of the one-word pitch is to “strip an organization right down to its bones, and see how compelling it really is.”

Of course, this exercise is even harder than it seems. Haque offers several examples of dumbwaiter pitches he deems successful (“Google? Search. Apple? Beauty. Lego? Creativity”) and some that he considers less so (Coca-Cola = Happiness). (I’m guessing he’s never been to the World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta—it’s a pretty happy place.)

Creating a dumbwaiter pitch is a smart idea for a startup hoping to hone its edge, and equally valuable for an existing company that may have drifted from its focus. (Try brainstorming dumbwaiter pitches with your entire staff and you’ll get a good handle on how they see your business.)

You may never use your dumbwaiter pitch, but in a world of ever-lessening attention spans, there’s plenty to be said for pithiness.