Juggling Innovation around Business Model Design

Juggling Innovation image via Michael Grills

Juggling Innovation Is Hard
image via Michael Grills

There seems a lot at present going on around the Business Model and formulating its design. Following on from the Business Design Summit held in Berlin in April of this year there seems to be a gathering of momentum surrounding the Business model.

There is an awful lot of designing going on, actually it is hard to juggle with it all, even for me that has a 100% focus on innovation.

The Business Design Summit had as its primary question: “Are the Business Tools you are using relevant for today’s world?

It went on to ask “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them, instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking”. “Your business ideas deserve better than PowerPoint and Excel”

The momentum is specifically aimed at Business innovation design tools and how to manipulate them and this is giving rise to the ‘school’ of tool-smiths. I wrote about the Business model canvas as set to explode in 2012 and events this year are certainly ‘exploding’ in multiple ways. Let me give some examples:

The Business Model has become even more critical to create and relate too. Rita Gunther McGrath has just released her book “The End of Competitive Advantage- how to keep your strategy as fast as your business”, published by Harvard Business Review Press. Her whole premise is that today “Strategy is Stuck as most leaders are using frameworks that were designed for a different era of business”.

Rita believes “we require a new set of practices based on the transient competitive advantage”.  We are in a time of fast evaporating competitive advantage and we can’t spend months crafting a single strategy, we need to keep exploring and reiterating different initiatives that are more focused, leaner, more defined, more transient in their nature.

This needs more fluid, greater visualization and more customer-centric approaches and modular strategic design approaches.

So what if?

What if you prototyped business models like architects sketch buildings this is one of the main appeals of the business model canvas, outlined in the book: Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, written by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, You can simply do that, sketch out new business ideas or quickly visualize existing businesses and the ‘multiple’ canvases can be used in teams as a sharing tool to structure the thinking.

What if you had a clear method to uncover what customers want to get done? How about a tool and methodology that will help you to Identify and prioritize the jobs-to-be-done? Knowing these is clearly of high value and can lead to rapidly achieving growth segments that tap into this. Jobs-to-be-done is very fertile ground many are exploring including Clayton Christensen, Tony Ulwick and Strategyn, Mark Johnson and Innosight and plenty more. One of the best books outlining a well thought through approach to this JtbD is in Lance Bettencourts book “Service Innovation: how to go from customer needs to breakthrough services”

What if we learnt to talk  always around the Value Proposition, not that difficult part of explaining ‘our’ (boring) business strategy? Recently we have been seeing the emergence of a Value Proposition Canvas from Yves Pigneur, Alex Osterwalder and Alan Smith. This will ‘emerge’ in a book “the Value Proposition Design” due to be published sometime soon. The VP canvas dovetails into the BM canvas. It takes the JtbD concept to achieve a greater fit between the value you intent to create and the expectations your customers have.

Part of the Business model canvas proposition is extending tools to build better models and through www.strategyzer.com this web site (at present) is dedicated to working away at different tools and becoming the official Alpha web-app from the makers of Business Model Generation developing software solutions.

Also expect to see further development through the Business Model Foundry and the Strategyzer Academy that will explore and educate upon all the emerging tools and techniques being ‘crafted’ away at present. I’d recommend joining the Business model hub by the way, another from this growing business enterprise, centred on the Business Model Canvas.

Juggling, juggling and juggling.

Have you thought about “Pruning the product tree?” Luke Hohmann and his company The Innovation Games Company are providing a range of serious but fun games that can produce concepts that shift your thinking. On his ‘pruning the product tree’ the focus is not on ‘cutting’ but ‘shaping’ to arrive at products that your customers desire more and so you eventually  create a ‘new canopy’ of innovating options. They are developing a whole range of innovation games

Within organizations there needs to be greater, richer conversations – those strategic conversations that are more creative, collaborative and working more though adaptive challenges arising more constantly than ever.  Lisa Kay Soloman, who teaches Design Strategy at the California College of Arts is co-authoring a book due out next year “Moment of Impact: how to design strategic conversations that accelerate change”, published by Simon & Schuster.

Have you checked out Dave Gray, founder and CEO of Limini. Dave has authored two books Gamestorming, a practical handbook for innovators and change agents and a second book, the Connected Company, offering a strategic blueprint and roadmap for businesses who want to innovate. He is exploring a “culture map” approach to help teams understand their cultures as well.

I could go on, as there is an awful lot of fresh thinking emerging.  Just take the ‘body of work’ that Steve Blank is producing centred around a methodology for focusing around the customer, take time out to get into his manual “The Startup Owner’s Manual” written with Bob Dorf.  More and more entrepreneurs have discovered Eric Ries and his thoughts on applying continuous innovation in lean ways to create radically successful businesses which are outlined in his book “The Lean Startup”.

One could look towards “Design Thinking” with Tim Brown (CEO Ideo) traditionally leading this charge but take a look at a book written by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie “Designing for Growth: A design thinking toolkit for managers” where they lead you through the ability to turn abstract ideas into practical applications and cover the mind-set, techniques, and vocabulary of design thinking, so helping us to unpack the mysterious connection between design and growth

So we have an awful lot of juggling taking place

Those who have not yet picked up on Gary Hamel’s quest for change through the reinvention of management and his moonshots for management should find the time- it sets the Business scene and future agenda. Then you have Steve Denning who writes about radical management over at Forbes and I’d certainly recommend reading his recent article “The Management Revolution That’s Already Happening” where he is suggesting that today’s organizations represent a failure so deep and pervasive that there are hardly words to describe it.

 A veritable revolution in management and its design is under way.

 Steve Denning argues we are fleshing out a “new management canon” – a huge paradigm shift. He believes we are in a creative economy that generates dramatic reductions in cost, size, and time, and improvements in convenience, of products and services with new systems of infrastructure, new ways of socializing, new meaning as to how time is spent, and new ways of living these possibilities

Those of you not yet ‘plugged in’ then I’d begin, the sooner the better, as there is a whole new way of thinking going on and any movement of this potential magnitude needs supporting and exploring, especially if you share in the belief that much is out of kilter within the business world. There is a ‘certain business revolution in the air’.

Something in the Air by Thunderclap Newman
“Call out the instigators
Because there’s something in the air
We’ve got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution’s here, and you know it’s right
And you know that it’s right

We have got to get it together
We have got to get it together now”

8 thoughts on “Juggling Innovation around Business Model Design

  1. Pingback: Juggling Innovation around Business Model Desig...

  2. yes I agree. Since the local canvas is being replaced by glocal canvas, we will need revolution in every area of efficiency, innovation and transformation to stay relevant and sustain business.

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  3. Great summary, Paul. Pleased to see that I have more than half the books you reference but you’ve given me some new avenues of discovery, thank you. I agree that we are in a transformational phase that isn’t even on the radar of most businesses and their leaders. What’s exciting to me is that you can’t fake this stuff, you can’t just pay some consultants to do it for you, you really have to be immersed in it. This should pave the way for some truly great leaders and businesses to emerge, at all levels.

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  4. Colin- I agree, we are in the middle of this, sometimes uncomfortable, more times uplifting. Much is pioneering, works-in-progress, how it all emerges, who knows as long as I feel I’m still ‘crawling’ up the learning and understanding curve!

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  5. Pingback: Juggling Innovation around Business Model Design | fred zimny's serve4impact

  6. Pingback: Leadership, not process, is the keystone of innovation | Game-Changer

  7. Paul,

    Thanks for your continued good work on your blog!

    The group I’ve co-founded (see below) would strongly argue there is an other, perhaps the major, dimension which needs to be added to all the “juggling” to maximize innovation in the short and long term: increasing attention to the triple bottom line.

    The good news is that research over the past 10+ years is showing that a focus on the triple bottom line can be a strong and sustainable source of innovation and profit. For example, as described Bob Willard in “The New Sustainability Advantage”, the sustainability lens creates innovations that can get 51-81% increases in bottom line and a 16-36% reduction in risk to that profit.

    These are proven “low hanging fruit” innovations. We believe businesses cannot afford to ignore these financially, environmentally or ethically.

    Plus, as per a recent KPMG report, this approach enables business to sumultaneously innovate to both take advantage of the opportunities *AND* reduce the risks related to the “mega forces” shaping our world today (everything from climate change to eco-system decline and population growth) (see figure 49, p133 of the KPMG report)

    Warm regards
    Antony Upward

    co-founder Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group
    http://www.SSBMG.com

    de Boer, Y., van Bergen, B., McKenzie, M., Averchenkova, A., Gladwin, T. N., Lyon, T., & Bunch, R. (2012). Expect the Unexpected: Building Business Value in a Changing World. ().KPMG International.

    Willard, B. (2012). In Willard B. (Ed.), The new sustainability advantage: seven business case benefits of a triple bottom line (Completely rev. 10th anniversary ed.). Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada: New Society Publishers.

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  8. Pingback: Innovation Excellence | Leadership, not Process, is the Keystone of Innovation

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