Business model innovation show superior impact on performance

Good news for all the evangelist of business model innovation. McKinsey has developed an innovation performance score (IPS) that shows that “a significant degree of business model innovation seems to be necessary for superior innovation impact.”

The idea of business model innovation was not developed at the large consultancy companies like McKinsey, BCG or booz. Probably they were too busy optimizing the current business of their current clients. And usually their clients are the incumbent in their respective business. Probably, the large consultancies are trapped what Clayton Christiensen calls resource dependency. Christiensen and others argue that you are dependent in your strategic decision from your main sources where you get your resources from and most of the time it is from your existing clients. In the case of the large consultancies the customers are the incumbents that lose the most from business model innovation.

Business model innovation as new strategy type

The idea stems from researchers like Alex Osterwalder, Gary Hamel (business concept innovation), W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne with their blue ocean strategy or me. In stead of looking at the incumbents we were looking at entrepreneurs/ outsiders that created industries or changed their industries forever. While Alex and I came from New Economy side where we saw that new media allows new business models, Hamel, Kim and Mauborgne came from the traditional strategy schools at universities.

Measuring the impact of innovation is old subject but most measurement systems had severe shortcomings. Continue reading Business model innovation show superior impact on performance

Change, unlearning and the business model

Thinking in business models helps you in change projects, particularly in the unlearning of unwanted tacit assumptions and knowledge of the past. Forgetting what made you successful in the past is the key challenge in any change project, learning new things actually the easy part.

I am currently involved in a large change project. The company involved was living in a cozy environment. Demand was stable, predictable; project cycles were measured in years to decades and due to high entry barriers the firm was sure to “win” all business from its customers. Quality was so defined that the products lasted for eternity, most of the time longer than they had to last. Due to the heavy duty nature of its customers’ business everything was engineered to customers standards and very little of the components were bought off the shelf. Cost was not a major issue as long it was in budget.

And now the world has changed. Their customers had to change due to pressure from their clients. So the world of my firm will never be the same but since the change is coming slowly, there is time to adapt. The question is now: How can the firm change? How can it forget the habits that made it successful in the past but impede the future?

I teamed up with a coach that has a background in social psychology and constructivism. We had long discussion together but also with the customer’s management that was new on board. The question was where to start the change process.

Should we just have McKinsey, BCG or any other top consultancy fly in to have them develop a new market oriented strategy and then implement it? Our question was: Can you just implement a strategy into the heads of people that were not involved in the process? I think you can in certain cultures but not in nordic cultures. The danger is that you lose the strength any company has and particularly lose the commitment of the employees that make up the difference between a mediocre and a good to great company. You just lose the soul of the business and get mercenaries as employees. So that was not an option.

The other approach often used in change management is soft, typical HR driven. Management does some seminars on change, culture and innovation; and, what a miricale, people then will understand the need for change and then they will change. Unfortunately this is an illusion but big business for trainers and coaches. The problem here is that it sounds so right but people will consume not engage.

The problem and also the chance for our client was that they still have cash and time to change. Some units are in trouble others still earn money with the traditional way of doing business. So there is little sense of urgency (bad) but also time for a deeper change (good).

Understand your business model as a start, Understand what business are you in

Our approach was simple. We wanted to put a mirror in front of management. We wanted management to see the current situation through different glasses. Continue reading Change, unlearning and the business model

Karstadt: Death of a legend (business model)

The German retail and travel conglomerate Arcandor AG formerly known as KarstadtQuelle AG filed on June 9th 2009 for insolvency. It claims that the financial crisis is the reason. It had asked the German government in May for state aid but the government refused. But is the financial crisis the real reason for the dire situation? I do not think so. The business models of its retail activities (Karstadt and Quelle) are just dead. The management did not innovate on its business model and that is the reason for failure.

Most writers and bloggers take the music industry as a prime example for an industry that failed to innovate its core business model. But there are many other industries where failure to innovate its core business lead to their decline. A sad prime example of missed innovation is Karstadt, a large department store chain in Germany and Quelle, a German mail order powerhouse.

The Karstadt case is typical for a corporation that business model is dated. Instead of rejuvenating its business model or finding new business ideas the old business model is defended and by consolidating the industry even reinforced.

The next lesson is that all activities at corporate level like selling non-core assets do not solve your problems of an ailing business model. The solution must be found on the business level not on a corporate level. If you cannot fix it, than sell or close it early. Success in business is not defined on corporate level but by its business model!

In May 2009, the CEO of Arcandor, Mr. Eich asked for “a state guarantee to temporarily bridge the gap of the currently non-functioning financial markets.” [update: link no longer available] Arcandor did not want to have any handouts nor a state participation in the company. It promised that it will repay the loan “to the last penny.” It claimed that the credit crunch is the main reason for its financial stress.

But is this really true?

The only constant in retailing is business model innovation

Retail markets in general are dynamic markets where new business models destroy old ones and create new fortunes. Zara, Aldi, H&M, IKEA or Carefour all reinvented their retail category and made their owners rich. But since the whole market did not grow as fast as the newcomers, the incumbents suffered losses in market shares and sales. Continue reading Karstadt: Death of a legend (business model)

Slides: Growth by business model innovation (2 part)

These are the slides of the second part of my lecture I gave at Leuphana University in Lüneburg in May. The first set of slides you find here.

TiVo: Failed Expectation

Business model innovations sound great as a strategy and if successful you can create a new market and escape the traditional competitors in your ex-industry. But the most important point in any innovation is not to have an idea, is not great execution, but the adoption of the innovation by  customers. And that is the crux of business model innovation: The diffusion of the innovation. The TiVo is a perfect example.

Ten years ago the TiVo digital video recorder was presented at a broadcasters’s convention in Las Vegas. People TiVo Boxexpected that the TiVo as an easy time-shift machine would change the TV industry for ever. The great opportunity for TiVo’s users was to watch a show whenever they wanted and without commercials since they could skip that annoying part. The latter was seen as the death of the TV industry as we know it today since their revenue model is based on these commercials that nobody needed to see anymore with a TiVo.  As predicted the TiVo sold well particularly as the price fell. But since 2007 the user base has fallen and the the TV industry is still existing as we know it.

It is the customer, stupid!

The Economist from April 25th, 2009 summarizes the problem with the TiVo very well: “Just because technology enables people to do something does not mean they will, particularly when it comes to a medium as indolence-inducing as television.” Continue reading TiVo: Failed Expectation

Ask questions! Ask why!

In workshops participants ask me what business model innovation would be best for their industry. I am always surprised about these kinds of questions.

I am not the expert for all industries. You are! You are the expert for what you are doing. The participants are the expert in their field. They know the idiosyncrasies of their industry, the hidden mental models of how their trade works. They understand the accepted rules of competition. They should know exactly what the customer values. They should have the insights in the customers’ behavior.  And they should find starting points for innovations.

I am not very creative. I was not great in art at school. I was a lousy painter, my brother helped me, I must admit. I never wrote a poem or composed music. But I am extremely curious. I was a pain in the neck for many. Continue reading Ask questions! Ask why!

Keynote on Business Model Innovation at Fraunhofer Gesellschaft

The THESUS program seeks to develop technologies and applications for the Internet of services. The program is sponsored by the German government and supported by German IT heavy weights like SAP or Siemens and technical universities in Germany.

The program is based on several use cases where technology is supposed to solve a real world problem. The aim of the program is to build with semantic technologies a new and better knowledge infrastructure. For webbies you can also call it Web3.0.

I was invited to give a keynote on business model innovation at a THESEUS workshop at the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Continue reading Keynote on Business Model Innovation at Fraunhofer Gesellschaft

Business Model Innovation on the Web

Yesterday, I gave a presentation at the InternetBriefing Zurich. Here it is. Enjoy it. I use Experteer, Linguee, blacksocks and digitalSTROM as case studies to illustrate business model innovation.

Slides from the course “Growth by business model innovation”

The slides are from my last lecture I gave at the Leuphana University in Lüneburg in Germany.

Money as the only differentiator

“We have to pay so high salaries otherwise we don’t get the right people” is often heard from firms even in the crisis.  Particularly the failed banking industry was very good in this salary death spiral. Salary was seen in this market as the only differentiators with great results.

I always wondered why the so highly paid managers could not find other reasons than money. Are they so uncreative that they had only the pricing mechanism as the only marketing tool in their recruiting process? Did they ever think about who they hired when money is the only reason why one should work for a particular bank? Can you develop a long-term oriented, customer centric bank when you have soldiers of fortune as employees? Have they every thought about what kind of culture they have created in this process? Have they ever thought about the customer experience they have created with a recruiting policy like that?

Well, the bankers will tell you they were driven by the short term orientation of the investors and the financial market in general. They will tell you that everybody was doing it so they had to do it as well. Continue reading Money as the only differentiator