Design thinking, Ideo and disruptive business model innovation

To be honest, I get a bit bored about the mantra that design thinking will solve the problems of large corporation. Well, when I go through the case studies at Ideo I am extremely impressed by their client list but not about the output. I have seen several design thinking sessions and I am not impressed at all with the output. The results are very often: More-of-the-Same but with fancier design.

Wer hat es erfunden? Novo Nordisk insulin pen

Where is the invention from design thinking that changed the industry? Where is the iTunes or the Kindle of Ideo? The problem with design thinking starts very early in the process with the problem definition phase. And that is where large corporations fail. They define the scope too narrow and than you get nice new things that sustain your current business but not new business models that rock your industry and yourself.

Ideo is a very good (self-) marketing & design firm but not an industry rocking firm. Large firms just love Ideo because Ideo just offers such a well designed process to solve the big problem of “being not innovative”. You hire Ideo for comforting yourself for not using your own common sense and your own customer insights. You just outsource your understanding of the customer to Ideo.

And how innovative are Ideo’s ideas?

Let’s take the example of the insulin pen Ideo describes on its homepage as a case [update 22nd Oct 2010, case is not available on IDEOs homepage any longer due to redesign of page]. Continue reading Design thinking, Ideo and disruptive business model innovation

Culture and the Business Model: We are humans

In the discussion on business model innovation an important point is missing: the culture in which the business is conducted. A business is all about people “creating” customers.

Businesses are not a technical machine with input and output factors. Businesses are places where human beings work together for a common goal and therefore the culture in a business is a defining part of a business and therefore also for the business model.

Most definitions of what a business model is are rather technical. We talk about components, patterns, building blocks. We make a lot of fuss about how we rearrange the components as if they were just Lego bricks. We believe that having in mind a great new business model is already a business model innovation.

Where are the people?

Ups, no! That does not work. Somehow the most important “building block” of a business is missing: The human being that designs, shapes and makes the business work and the customer who has to buy into the new value proposition and pay. And here again we have the human factor. “[I]nnovation is not what innovators do but what customers adopt.” We always have to remember what Michael Schrage is saying. It is the customer acceptance that makes an innovation. Continue reading Culture and the Business Model: We are humans

Let’s commit a thoughtcrime

In formulated strategy we use a lot of words like innovative, based on core competencies, market driven, customer centric, operational excellence, best-in-class, top quality, leveraging existing brand, etc…. You named it and of course business model and business model innovation are now part of these buzz words. Are they still meaningful or did we forget the deeper concepts behind the words? Do we use the technocratic jargon to signal others that we are the experts?

doublethink by duncan

As I have argued in my last post, I think we use in strategy and in management in general too many generic and meaningless words. And I think we use also too many meaningless graphs and pictures to say nothing as a matter of fact. Visualization does not help you if your strategy is bad. Sorry, Alex for this 😉 .

Every decent firm claims in restructuring that it is concentrating on its core competencies when divesting or closing parts of its firm. Well, and often it is the same firm that argued some time ago that it was necessary to buy this now divested firm since it wanted to offer full service to its customers. We have so many words for “Sorry, it did not work. We just could not make it work”. Why are we so afraid about the truth?

Management Newspeak

In management we have invented Newspeak. Original, Newspeak is a fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. The basic idea behind Newspeak is to remove all shades of meaning from language. While in Orwell’s novel the government tries to introduce Newspeak to the people in order to make the people more compliant to its will, in the case of management it is our own fault. We managers use our own Newspeak and we have taken all meaning out of it. Continue reading Let’s commit a thoughtcrime

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!

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.

Changing strategy reality

This video shows extremely well why companies just not need to do more of the same (MOTS) since it leads to more clutter. More clutter in features, more clutter in products, more clutter in advertising, more clutter in PR messages, more clutter of everything.

In this strange world of more of everything simplicity and clarity in your business model helps to find real differentiation, not just little differentiation but radical. Differentiation in the image, the message and the product helps but business model innovation where you create a fresh business model that is based on fresh customer insights is one key to reach this needed radical differentiation.

Enjoy the video by Scholz & Friends.

This video is particularly funny for all Germans that were socialized by the brands mentioned on the side line. Think that we have only limited brain capacity for each product category.

Time for disruptive innovation?

I was asked lately, when it is time for a disruptive innovation or a business model innovation? When should a company try to steer away from sustaining innovations toward a blue ocean of less competition.

Well, I would like to open this question to all of you. Please, tell me when you think it is time for change. Do we need a crisis or can we do it deliberately?

Please use the comment function for the discussion.

How large companies react to the crisis

The current crisis could be a great start to rethink your business, but large companies do the opposite. Besides the usual and essential task to save cash they push their business units into more controlling and reporting of the existing business.

Today, I had a long chat with an executive from a business unit in a large company. We talked about the reaction of the headquarters to the financial crisis which is hitting his business hard. He is very busy in the moment to cut unnecessary costs and to save cash wherever possible. At the same time he is spending a lot of time with customers to find new projects. Besides pressure on the margin customers have canceled orders but his position is still better than of his competitors due to his excellent customer relation.

At the same time he feels that his business model is too similar to the strategies of his competitors. Continue reading How large companies react to the crisis

What is the purpose of your business?

Beginning of the week, I had a long discussion with Dr. oec. Susan Müller and  Prof. Dr. Thierry Volery, two researchers at the University of St. Gallen. They want to figure out how high the excess return is earned by business model innovators. They want to know which kind of business innovation like value innovation or architectural innovation leads to what kind of über return or excess return.

Very interesting question in particular since most researchers including myself are still using case studies to make our point.

What made the discussion even more interesting was that we discussed what a business model is. There are several technical definitions like mine but for us more interesting was why the term became so prominent in the last years. With the term business model the word business returned to prominence in the conversation on strategy. Continue reading What is the purpose of your business?