Do we need visionary leaders for innovative business models?

When I joined Microsoft in 1993 my decision to do so was stimulated by the picture I had from Bill Gates as a visionary leader. The company’s mission Bill Gates created at that time was “A computer on every desk and in every home”. It was an aspirational vision and motivating target for the scorecards. Would Microsoft be the same company today if the mission would never have existed and Bill Gates visions would have not influenced the product and research agenda in the way he did?

Most famous companies today are connected to visionaries: Apple with Steve Jobs, Amazon with Jeff Bezos, Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla with Elon Musk. Does this prove that only visionary leaders create truly successful and innovative companies? How many visionary leaders have failed to create successful and innovative companies? This is much harder to answer than the first question. We only know about success stories, failures do not get the same publicity.

The passion for a visionary value proposition

visionary leadersAll of the above named leaders are not only visionaries from a product or services point of view. They are passionate about a value proposition for their customers. Bill Gates core value proposition was productivity gains, Steve Jobs was design and function, Jeff Bezos is price and customer service, Mark Zuckerberg is social sharing and Elon Musk is sustainable clean energy. The products are a means to an end and deliver the value proposition.

Employees in organizations need to understand the value proposition a leader wants to create. Innovation, to realize a value proposition, can occur everywhere in an organisations business model. Truly innovative organisations constantly challenge the status quo and look for different and better ways of achieving the vision.

A true visionary leader is able to view the organisation as an outsider. A fresh perspective allows the leader to forget about the existing customers and look at the entire world as the future market. A good example is Elon Musk with his broader perspective and the creation of multiple companies all supporting his true vision in a very different way.

Visionary companies: Do they need charismatic leaders?

Is your organisation blessed with such a leader? Continue reading Do we need visionary leaders for innovative business models?

Rethinking your industry logic: Cross Industry Business Model Innovation

Business Structure’Our industry is unique and should not be compared with other industries!’ This is a common phrase I have heard countless times throughout my consulting career. But is it true?

Strangely enough the most successful companies become prosperous not by excluding comparisons, but by leveraging other industries success factors and applying them in a new context. Many other companies that innovated within the boundaries of their current industry logic often left the stage early. When looking at new business models it is often clear that they have not been developed from scratch. Many models that have changed an industry are merely refurbished versions of another model by another industry.

Business Model Innovation is about combining successful models from various industries as well as finding completely new ways of doing things.

Re-imagine your organisation with a different leader

When you design your future business model you need to find ways to overcome the current thinking patterns or dominant logic of your industry. Famous leaders are often responsible for defining a new way of thinking in their industry. How would Rupert Murdoch or Frank Lowry run your business? What new customer segments would Robin Hood develop in your organisation? How would Pierre Omidyar lead your not-for-profit organisation?

Google didn’t apply the business model from the software industry, yet their first product was nothing else than software packaged as a service. Airbnb.com didn’t use the business model of the hospitality industry, yet they offer hospitality services. Kickstarter.com didn’t use a banking or venture capital business model, yet they fund new endeavours all the time.

They all applied models from a different industry and combined them with a new approach that broke the dominant industry logic.

Understanding another industries business models is only the first step

Companies should always look beyond their traditional industry borders to learn. Could you learn from Nespresso’s direct sales model? Could you do the same and sacrificed some reach of your sales channels for a much more rich interaction with your customers?

Could you learn from Ikea and outsource some core activities to your customers? Could you learn from Gillette and their “razor and blade” model? Could you learn from the newspaper industry with their subscription model that makes customer pay you in advance before they get the product? Continue reading Rethinking your industry logic: Cross Industry Business Model Innovation

Value creation through values in Business Models

Team and corporate valuesBusiness Model Innovation opens up the opportunity to not only transform the value proposition, value architecture or revenue model of an organisation, it is a chance to rethink your human value systems and build businesses that customers love, employees’ value and investors are excited about. Often, particularly in turbulent times, cultural innovation is an imperative for management.

Many books have been written about why organisations should have value systems defined and how you implement values in your core business. Still not all organisation have made this effort and those who did not always manage to live up to those set standards. Surprisingly, Alex’s business model canvas does not have values as a key building block of a business model either.

Effective organizations identify and develop a clear, concise and shared meaning of values or beliefs, priorities, and direction so that every employee understands and can contribute. Those values, once defined, impact every aspect of your organization and of the whole business model. The values must be an integral part of a description of any business model.

In my leadership career I have experienced what difference it can make if you have a leader that takes on the challenge to transform an organisation through values. When I started my work at Microsoft Australia the organisation was at first view a fairly successful subsidiary, achieving its revenue targets and outperforming other subsidiaries in some areas of the business. At a closer look the organisation had issues in areas like customer and partner satisfaction as well as employee retention. The most worrying factor was that departments were fighting each other over resources and a culture of back stabbing was quite common.

Cultural Innovation as a starting point for Business Model Transformation

Microsoft had already values defined that every employee should live up to and display. In reality many of those values were not more than letters on a web site. The company appointed a new Managing Director and with his appointment a cultural transformation journey began. He hired a Consulting firm that was specialized in building “Conscious Businesses” and our organisation transformed within 2 years in an amazingly positive way. Our leadership team, which I was part of, experienced a dramatic change in how we interacted with each other and how we connected our businesses in a much more meaningful and holistic way. Our customer satisfaction increased substantially and our employee health index (a measure of subjective employee satisfaction) became world leading within the company. Continue reading Value creation through values in Business Models