The limitations, criticisms and new pathways for Design Thinking – Part two

This is part two of my thoughts that came out of investigating and researching design thinking in the past couple of weeks. Part one is here.

Within these two posts, I want to provide my thoughts, bridging the present and pointing towards a better design thinking future, one that in my opinion, is urgently needed.

These two posts are not intended as a mapping of the present DT landscape, they are reflective posts coming from what I researched.

The ‘product of my work’ itself is presently being worked through to be available as an e-book in the coming weeks. It has not been easy and often I found a level of confusion that kept forcing me to dig some more and I’m still not sure I have the answers, perhaps just lots of open questions. I think design thinking seems presently fairly messy and I feel is in need of a complete reset.

The intent of the e-book is to offer a practical, direct takeaway of design thinking, more of the present practices and then where it is possibly heading. I tried to go linear, gone circular, gone holistic and at times ballistic and sought out tactical and strategic design, recognizing how its orientation has moved through product, service, experience, business model and is lifting design into new ways of orientation at tactical and strategic levels.

As I found out from my research, there is an awful amount of “noise” and “hype to work through to find the past, present and future positions of design thinking. In summary, I think design thinking is undergoing a revolution, a certain maturing but it is littered with a very messy, highly competitive present. Continue reading

The limitations, criticisms and new pathways for Design Thinking – Part One

Let me summarize where we are today in design thinking. In the past couple of weeks, I have been spending a fair amount of time on investigating design thinking.

This is part one of my thoughts that came out of investigating and researching design thinking

In these two posts, I want to provide my outcomes, bridging the present and pointing towards a better design thinking future, in my opinion urgently needed.

The ‘product of my work’ itself is presently being worked through to be available as an e-book in the coming weeks.

The intent of the e-book is to offer a practical, direct takeaway of design thinking, the present practices and where it is possibly heading. I tried to go linear, gone circular, gone holistic and at times ballistic and sought out tactical and strategic design, recognizing how its orientation has moved through product, service, experience, business model and lifting design into new ways of orientation at tactical and strategic levels.

As I found out from my research, there is an awful amount of “noise and hype” to work through to find the past, present and future positions of design thinking. In summary, I think design thinking is undergoing a revolution, a certain maturing but it is littered with a very messy, highly competitive present.

I am suggesting that perhaps design thinking is a current ‘burning platform’ and the term ‘design thinking’ is so loaded it might need to be reworked under different banners to allow it to evolve as it equally needs to be restated and deepened in its skills, practices, uses, and methodologies. Continue reading

Deeper read or quick summary- finding the time

researching_innovation

I recently wrote a post “Delving into a complex world- helping to keep pace”.……to help us to keep pace, learn apply and adapt.

Finding time to read and extend our thinking is a real struggle and going that extra mile to read thought-leadership views can be a step to far, I know but I can’t help myself, it is part of my job and certainly for me, many are really worth it.

In that post I was recommending Deloitte and their thought leadership as a good place to visit.

Now I’m not sure how many of you actually did, so I thought in this post  to pick out specifically two great articles and make a post summary of these, as I feel both of these might be useful, as they challenge and break new ground in thinking. Continue reading

Achieving a higher collaborative gear

Collaborative GearsFor a big majority of us, open innovation is now well established, it is part of our innovation furniture. The quest for many, today, is the search for richer engagements, possibilities and exchanges. We need to move beyond the existing boundaries and go deeper into the collaborative space.

I regard collaboration as the active ingredient, the yeast that allows our ‘daily innovation bread’ to rise. Getting all the parties ‘gathered around’ puts increased vitality, energy and commitment into working together over a project or idea.

As we learn to reach out and collaborate, exchanging perspectives and our different thoughts, it is in these interactions, in the many exchanges on-line and off-line that we move towards a real sense of achievement.

Allowing outside ideas through our doors

Open innovation has literally thrown open the doors, many of our research and development activities are increasingly relying on the input from outside. Open innovation is changing our behaviours.

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Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation

SurrondedFinally I am completely surrounded. I have that feeling of being somewhat overwhelmed, I can’t twist and turn any more, it simply will not go away. Do I throw myself off the building or decide to listen a little longer? It really is forcing me to think.

Today it seems whenever I pick up a business book each chapter has a section on it. Also I seem not to be able to not fall over all the articles extolling its virtues, I mindlessly “Google it” and you can see your whole life flash before you, if you decided to investigate this seriously.

What am I talking about?  Well nothing other than Design Thinking. I know, most of you are so heavily into this you feel you might as well ‘flip’ over to the next article but are you, really?

Continue reading

The Age of Large Business Model Reinvention

Most of our existing organizations are searching for the mechanisms to reinvent their business models, through identifying, designing and executing differently from the existing ones, where they tend to simply be ‘locking themselves into’ repeating patterns, possibly opening themselves up to new forces of disruption.

There is a sense of urgency that is growing at the corporate level, to master this ability to design different business models and then set about executing them, to combat the multiple ‘disruptive forces’ swirling around in the present and near-term business environment.

Reinventing the Business model is such a big ask in the complexities to overcome, the legacies, the vested interests, the distribution of created wealth (dividends, bonuses, performance) are all ‘locked into’ the existing business. Many of those necessary bolder decisions get caught up in horrible compromise.  Parallel managing is both an art and a science but it always needs clarity.

Addressing the current dilemma within business models

So we have a classic dilemma, we need to manage and extract as much as we can from the existing business but simultaneously begin to reinvent, to design something different.

Caught up in this dilemma, increasingly the large organization is questioning how it can use the Business model canvas in more effective ways. I believe there are many exciting options available.

Business models need a common language, they need to be easily described and here is the fundamental value of the BMC – it can set about supporting a common understanding, it can be used to describe in multiple ways.

Here is my view  

Move the thinking. Move the emphasis. Today the BMC is discussed more as the blank canvas to start new ideas and concepts and its present focus has been in its use for start-ups and entrepreneurs. From these opening sketches, the canvas does a great initial job to describe these ‘emerging’ concepts. We need to change this emphasis point.

The possible new dimensional values of the Business model canvas.

Make the Business model canvas as a multiple describing and communicating tool. We should shift our thinking and open our minds up to its (BMC) greater value within the larger organizations

These are clearly:

  • To simply explore new business models as the book, the Business model generation, originally sets out, in the how what and where of doing this through the business model canvas approach. To experiment with all the advice, tools and experiences that have been built up since this book first appeared.

The richer and perhaps broader dimensions that large organizations should explore:

  • To ‘map’ changes to existing business models as they evolve or need to pivot differently. Steve Blank has explained this insignificant detail and terms as the BM dashboard that ‘indicates’ the important changes and these become the focal point of necessary discussion, knowing what is changing, to focus the thinking and see what changes need supporting differently.
  • Then why not to sketch out competitors positions to explore possible opportunity gaps. This should become one of those consistent ‘habits’ that so many large organizations often have a real blind spot to undertake, they just keep assuming nothing has ‘visibly’ changed. Then they get caught out and surprised when they see their share slipping away as the competitor has made a directional change and this was not spotted and communicated to all parties who ‘need’ to know. The BM Canvas can spot and track competitors.
  • Use it as a designing dashboard for innovations that have or could have an impact on existing business models. Whenever you have any major BM change you capture it on your BM Canvas so all above and below in the organization can picture this to see the possible risks this change might bring.
  • Use it to compare business model components across each of the countries within the organization, where more often than not different models are being applied to build businesses in multiple ways. This enables all involved to quickly focus on the differences on these operating models and how the market formation is occurring to get quickly into the strategic discussions, implications, and requirements this ‘specific’ approach takes.
  • When you are pitching for internal funds having a clear BMC as the visual focal point provides the top picture that others can quickly see and appreciate the why and how – they ‘see’ the value and the $$ potential,. This can offer ‘intelligent inquiry’ not getting bogged down in detail and getting involved in the running of the business but supporting owners or business managers with different experiences and knowledge to compliment theirs, so as to conduct the type of ‘intelligent’ and strategic conversation needed, instead of many that needlessly occur today.
  • To have ready alternative scenario’s for volatile business conditions as ‘early warning scenarios’ that have mapped out potential changing conditions showing where, why and how the business model might be adjusted or radically changed. The earlier ‘warning system’ pays in volatile times that we are all facing at present to be more aware and ready for rapidly changing conditions, possibly already ‘worked up’.
  • Managing multiple portfolios of business is a complex challenge to spot ‘commonality,’ to detect change, different opportunities or simply recognizing there is a growing ‘drift’ of direction that needs addressing. You can use the BMC as the detection kit, the reoccurring adopted format practice to capture these different portfolios.
  • Rapid concept brainstorming to move into prototyping evaluation and market testing. Testing many different variations in small bite-sized bets is rapid prototyping, do this through the effective use of the business model canvas. Testing fast in the actual marketplace new business models and then learning from them to improve the approach is absolutely critical. Get the customer involved and engaged, get your potential partners grouped around the BMC to build and extend out, the internal thinking.
  • The business model needs to be constantly tested for its potential in its recurring value, and it needs a canvas to constantly challenge its present position and worth.

There are multiple ways the business model canvas can be explored in exciting new visual ways so as to describe effectively in a common format and capture the wealth of different opportunities.  To invent, to communicate and explore the ‘richness’ within the potential value that is simply laying underneath the different components that make up a business model.

Let’s keep moving the conversation forward on where the business model can work in creative ways within large organizations. Do you have any further ideas?

 

 

The Understated Back-End of the Business Model Canvas.

 So we all know a standard company balance sheet has three parts: assets, liabilities and ownership equity. The accounting equation states assets and liabilities are known as equity or net worth and this net worth must equal assets minus liabilities. The balance sheet summarises the present position or last audited position.

Well in the Business model canvas we have the cost side, the back-end, made up of the activities, resources and partnership aspects and a revenue side, the front end, made up of customer segments, channels and customer relationships. It is the ‘net worth’ of all these blocks that makes up their contribution to the Value Proposition.

It is the nine building blocks when we put them together, tells the complete story, a little like a business model balance sheet. Balancing this out thoughtfully does need that bringing it all together, so as to give others the compelling story and begin to mobilise around and attract the necessary resources.

My question though is this: “is the BMC understated at the back-end today and should we strike a different balance for more established organizations?”

Balancing the BMC BMC model is by Osterwalder & Pigneur. Visual source: Steve Blank

Balancing the BMC
BMC model is by Osterwalder & Pigneur. Visual source: Steve Blank

What happens when one side perhaps gets over emphasised?

Very much the orientation of the business model canvas is presently skewed towards the front end – the market facing part and rightly so. You are in search of a new business model, you will never find it in the building. As Steve Blank rightly stated “you have to get out of the building” to validate your assumptions or hypothesis, to search for the value in the real marketplace.

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The (Re)birth of the Architect for the Business Model Design

Business model both in new designs and it management have become centre stage in many of our existing organizations’ thinking. The need is not just too simply find new growth through new business models but to ‘react and adapt’ those existing business model designs that are in place, to catch-all the emerging possibilities that are around, hopefully before others do. Are we doing a good job of this at present?

BMC- Osterwalder & Pigneur. Visual source: Steve Blank

BMC- Osterwalder & Pigneur. BMC Visual source: Steve Blank

Those without a legacy or are really agile usually are in pole position to explore new opportunities quickly. Also to start with a blank business canvas is exhilarating. It seems we are in the era of the Entrepreneur or are we?

The entrepreneur has a great chance to pioneer, to quickly expand and seize those opportunities to disrupt those occupants serving a known market. The art of discovering the unmet needs of not just existing consumers but attracting in the ones presently outside the focus markets is such a valuable place to attack.

The constraints within the existing organizations

Designing the new business model seems an awful lot easier than if you were involved within the’ poor old’ established organization locked into its structures, systems, existing markets positions battling with satisfying existing shareholders. Just moving those conflict points along within the organization often seems certainly from the outside, in perpetual conflict. There is a real challenge to see things differently and design differently!

The established organization has to combat this increasing threat from all these “usurpers”. There is a strong call for change in existing organizations but there are often complex ecosystems to overcome and the demands for new structures and approaches to resolving these are increasing.

The ever increasing call for more C-EX’s of something

It seems we are continually called upon to add more chief officers in innovation, in information, in knowledge, etc., etc. to address the constant gaps found within existing organizations inability to adapt, focus and design the business. Specialisation is needed but we seem to increasingly lack the function of pulling this all together. The Chief Executive seems to be so out on a limb defending, cajoling, managing and simply reacting to constant crises across their shortening tenure; we are losing the bigger picture perspective when it comes to designing the business to shape it towards the future.

We need to manage the cross-cutting concerns in functionality, in constraints, in unlocking the resources successfully. Yes you could argue this is the role of the Chief Operating Officer but they seem far more focused on squeezing every bit of juice they can find from the existing operations. I hated it when the COO came knocking, you knew it was going to hurt. So who is this person then?

This person, I call the Business Architect who designs and develops the business ecosystem.

This person or function has to hold distinct views of the five essential aspects that impact across the organization. They are seeking out the unique ways for the internal competencies, processes and assets to combine and relate in seizing ‘breaking’ new business model design. They must have a comprehensive overview:

1.       They have the business strategy view and then are capable to break these down into the essential parts to tackle and address the strategic needs. They provide the strands for traceability to make sure these components are being actively worked upon

2.       Check and test the business capabilities and flag where gaps are found, assign the resource and focus to bridge these gaps and set about the building of the lasting capabilities needed to meet the business design needs

3.       Seek out and make sure the flow of business knowledge is occurring by applying a clear absorptive capabilities structure that sets about capturing, facilitating, accelerating and diffusing knowledge for it to flow throughout the organization and to its partners.

4.       Possess the best business operational view or be part of the inner team to support operational structures that cut across functional and organizational boundaries. This includes working the boundaries to extend and push any key design parameters, such as open innovation, platform innovation, collaborative ventures that extend and build on the existing entity.

5.       Have a clear view on the operation– perhaps not the responsible oversight but is able to capture, explain and link roles, capabilities and map these to the challenges being tackled today but designing those that need to be taken forward to build the future in more adaptive designs.

These five aspects have been discussed in numerous Business Architecture papers before and are suggested to provide the integrated view of the organization.

The absolute difference, for me, is not having these buried within the IT department but given the critical centre piece role of being the Chief Business Model Design Architect across the organization with an essential seat within the C-level team. They are responsible for the value configuration, building the necessary capabilities and focusing on the key activities and resources that are needed to implement change for different business models. They are a real change maker.

So we need strong business model design architecture today.

This person and his team design the business logic. It sets about to understand and describe the building blocks of business model design. It is the master of the Business model canvas, it understand the importance of the parts, their interlocking nature and can describe the rationale of how the organization creates, captures and delivers value for today’s business and is constantly exploring the future alternatives and having these designed into the future considerations.

The Business Model Architect designs the different blueprints. They work out offering through all the means necessary the common understanding, facilitate the roadblocks and design constraints so as to align the strategic objectives with the demands placed on the design of the organization. They work the team, they cut across boundaries, they set about ‘creating’ the organizational framework and deliver the “how we do it”, they are the business design translators.

They seek to design constantly what is needed, they look to instigate and demand changing capabilities to increase flexibility, to optimize and to adapt what is in place with what is needed to deliver the opportunities identified for giving new growth.  They map, model and design. They make design more dynamic to adapt to change.

Maybe they are tasked with offsetting  the entrepreneur out there, presently determined to disrupt their business. It is time for exploring all the value points of being the ‘incumbent’ and it needs this holistic business architecture approach.

They have and own the Architecture mandate for the organization for designing the architecture framework necessary for the business model and its design, not just for today but for the future.

The challenge is to provide them with all the tools and immense ingenuity available to them if they can harness it correctly, which I believe they can. ‘Locked’ within the organization is plenty of latent energy wanting to find new ways of working, new designs, structures and processes.

The design of new business models needs a clear focal point within established organizations. The very catalyst is that you need the Architect to orchestrate and completely manage this design process.