Business Modeling is often seen as process to rearrange the building blocks to an innovative business model. What people forget is that a business model is not just the building plan of your business but also should give answer to the question “Why should your business exist from a customer perspective?” So a business model is not just a building plan but also how you give meaning to your customers and your employees.
Values comes in different forms in the business model: First, it is the value proposition. You propose to your customers what value you will create for them when they engage with you. The second is your values and believes you share among the team that makes a great company. These two values are soft factors and sometimes fluffy. However, they are the foundation so that you can capture the economic value with your revenue model. These values make the difference.
Just watch Steve Jobs on values. And then apply that to your business model and your value proposition. You see, the value proposition has absolutely nothing to do with your product. So what is your core belief? What are your values? What do you stand for?
Simple questions, very difficult answers. Answer them. Try. Try again until you know what you stand for.
Your core values as starting point for business model innovation
Very few firms have very strong values and keep them over many years. But these values make the difference between ordinary good companies and great companies. Do you want to be great? Then work on your value proposition and your values. That gives meaning to you and your customers!
One of the beauties of the business model thinking is that we learn to see a business totally different if we really apply stringent thinking and dissect a business into its building blocks. And one of the most important concepts is that the value proposition is not the product. Why?
It’s not the product that creates value but the value proposition. The whole value architecture including the product, the revenue model and the team & values all have to deliver the value the value proposition is proposing.
Deadly business with a value proposition that customers and democracies need
A simple, a bit eccentric example illustrates this. Take manstopper ammunition that is for very good reasons banned by the Hague Convention in international warfare.
Manstopper ammunition does not sound like a lovable product and in terms of Alex canvas as a good value proposition?
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
All 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?
So you need to know what your customer will love? What excites them? What moves them? This of course allows you to begin the process of designing a business model that delivers to both the customer and the business. Traditional business motivations are usually a push approach. But is this the future? Guest post by James Streeton-Cook
Right now, let’s make something better than what’s out there, something really cool and we’ll beat the competition and make a mint.
Since you are reading this post then we can assume you know better.
Current business thinking it is all about what the customer needs. So let’s pull out the Henry Ford standard about ‘faster horses’ for that one. Enough of the push!
Power of Pull – It’s a Lean Thing
Lessons from Lean Business have taught us the power of pull systems. »The core idea of lean is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste.«
When creating something new, some new value, be that a business model; product or service; or even a new industry platform – value is pulled into arrangement (not pushed) by Attractors involved.
The same thing happens in nature and as far as I know is current thinking for the formation of the universe. So with a bit of imagination, pull will also be relevant in business model innovation. It is a non-linear thing and most of everything is made up of non-linear systems. A river flows down hill. Why?
The pull in a good value proposition: 3 Types of Attractor
There are 3 types of Attractors to look for in your discovery, insight and understanding of what will excites your customer.
Ever since we have the Internet everything is abundant. So many information at your fingertip, billions of webpages, millions of articles on Wikipedia, millions of articles at Amazon and other hundred of thousands of specialized ecommerce shops with even more articles. But is more choice always better?
Abundance of choice is today the norm. That is due to the Internet. A physical shop is always limited by its physical space. The Internet knows no limit.
When I started my research on business model innovation in 1997 we were pretty much alone in this field. Actually, we had no word to describe the profound changes in industry structures due to the emergence of the Internet at that time. The term business model innovation just popped up in 2000 as a pure academic accident. I just added innovation to business model, a term that emerge in the 1990s and I secured the URL business-model-innovation. Today, Google gives me 190.000.000 hits for the term business model innovation. So you have abundance of sources of information about business model innovation. However, can you use them all?
More choice the better: The value proposition of the first wave of Internet ventures
Knowing where to start in designing a business model or simply just even trying to describe it to others can be difficult. You need to explain its value. The great advantage of explaining this through a business model canvas that looks for value constantly does help. This a guest post by Paul Hobcraft, an Agility Innovation Specialist.
fluidminds approach to exploring and explaining the business model does just that- it focuses on focusing the mind on the value within the business model.
The first value point is in the Value Proposition
Naturally we all look to the Value Proposition to explain the business model but like a car you should always look ‘under the hood’ to see the engine and what gives a car its performance. Equally you should stand back from the proposition and ‘take in’ all that makes this up. For a car it is the styling, the design, the promise and what or who is behind it. We look to buy on a given ‘promise of value’ and in having the benefits explained it allows us to believe and ‘see’ the potentials. A business model, well designed and described, does just that. It confirms the (new or existing) value that makes up the new business model.
The value proposition shapes much; it identifies and defines where this business model is providing new offerings that advance on existing benefits to customers. The fluidminds business model canvas seeks out the customer and the customer benefit- it is looking to provide value by identifying where there is a clear fresh, new proposition.
We do have to recognize a value proposition is not just looking to resolve the known jobs-to-be-done. In many new business models can be bringing together often fragmented parts of existing offerings and combining them in new ways, or deliberately and completely disrupting existing businesses through adapting new insight, technology advancements or understanding, into new business models. We only need to think of Apple and how it combined different technologies, revolutionary design and applied new materials into stunning, game changing products that changed our thinking of the actual jobs we thought about into totally different ones, which totally undermined existing business value or perceptions. Those become game changers. Continue reading Knowing the Value within your Business Model is vital
Most people want to be liked or even be loved. But a good value proposition for a firm should not attract everybody but only the ones you intend. And that means that a lot of people might even hate you.
Abercrombie & Fitch offers no women’s XL or XXL because they don’t want big women to wear their brand. Their value proposition is clear: They want the cool kids as customers. They do not consider big women as cool.
Mike Jeffries is the man behind A&F. In an interview with Salon Magazine in 2006 he told, when asked about the emotional experience in his shops:
“It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people.”
That is the reason why they offer nothing for big ladies. That is their choice. They discriminate big ladies, but you as customers have the choice as well. You are not forced to buy at A&F. I do not buy at A&F because I do like their attitude. However, they have a value proposition that is clearly distinguished from their competitors. And that is what I like and adore. They stick to their mantra even under severe pressure from the public.
Take other firms, Apple or Zara. They also discriminate. Apple’s Operating System is a closed system and either you take or leave it. At Zara, you also have no extra large sizes.
We always hear that the customer is not buying because the price is too high. Is the price important?
Of course, most clients will say yes in any survey or in sales negotiation. Actually, there are departments at your clients that know only two words: Too expensive!! Give me rebates! That is the purchasing department and it is their job to negotiate the price of a purchase. However, is this true, that even for B2B customers only the price is important?
Observe the jobs-to-be-done of your customers. Don’t ask the customers
Let’s take an example from RWE, a huge German utility firm. Let’s take the case they need to purchase electronic testing equipment. Nothing fancy, just a plain vanilla device for 30 to 50 Euro. Traditionally, this purchase would be a C category purchase. C means not critically important to the firm and therefore the firm usually shops around among different suppliers for a good price.
So you would assume that price is the decisive criteria for a firm to purchase from you. And yes, if you survey customers what is important in their decision to purchase C goods, the price will be on top.
So, all B2B marketplaces of the late 1990s and early 2000s like Onvia had the value proposition that price of the goods are the most important criteria for the B2B market. So they offered everything economics told them what to do in a price sensitive market: Make auctions, offer pool buying for larger quantities or make requests for proposals.
Not the price of the good is important but the whole cost of purchasing
However, they had to learn the hard way (most disappeared from the market) that this is not the case. Let’s go back to the testing device of 30 to 50 Euro at RWE. Saving an extra 20% on a purchase of 50 Euro is great. But is it just 10 Euro. But the costs for the internal purchasing process can easily be 150 to 200 Euro for the traditional process according to Karl Czech from RWE purchasing. Continue reading It’s not the price, stupid. It is the value (proposition)
Thanks to the business model canvas people are enthusiastic to build new business models and find business model innovations, but often they get lost in technocratic details. They just see building blocks but they forget the overal logic every great business needs.
Actually, you as an entrepreneur have to answer just one core question: Why should your firm exist on this planet? You need a Daseinseinsberechtigung (right to exist) for your firm. This is a very philosophical question. To be more operational, you can break down the Daseins question into four core questions. But still the answers will not come with a pure analytical process but with creativity and lot’s of empathy for your customers and their jobs they want to have solved.
The four core questions on your business model canvas
Why should customers be excited to do business with you? That is the value proposition. You could almost go as far as asking: Why should customers love to do business with you?
How do you create the excitement of your customers in a productive way? That is the value architecture or operating model. Here you describe how you fulfill your value proposition.
How do you earn money? That is your revenue model or the profit formula and here you should be able to explain why you as the owner should be excited about the business.
What are your values you live up to in your team and with your customers and partners? That is the human side of the business and of utmost important, since it is the most difficult part to copy. I call it the culture and values of a business.
For these questions, you need compelling answers and the nine or elven building blocks are very helpful in answering the questions but do not get lost in details but look at the broader picture and see the interdependencies. If you can answer the questions you have a great strategy that is customer-oriented, profitable and sustainable.
The bad part for any mediocre business is that you cannot answer the questions. Please all mediocre business, why don’t you try harder and work on “why should your customers be exicted about you?” instead of optimizing a dull business.
Architectural innovations are often what customers do not see immediately but there are core of any good strategy. While in the last years we saw a trend toward concentration on core activities like marketing and branding, some companies take the opposite route. And that is good.
I was recently in Egypt to give a workshop on business model innovation. I received an invitation from the Executive Institute, a young and upcoming executive education institute based in Cairo. I was absolutely intrigued by the participants and their entrepreneurial drive. We can all learn from them in the so-called developed countries since they are true entrepreneurs and risk-takers. Participants came from different backgrounds ranging from food and telco, real estate development to plumbing and fixings.
Concentrate on the core
The traditional view on the value chain is to concentrate on the core activities. So almost all consumer electronics, computer or mobile equipment firms have outsourced their production to specialized manufacturers, so-called contract manufacturers or electronics manufacturing services (EMS). The western firms like Apple, Dell or IBM concentrate on the design, R&D, marketing and sales of the devices and leave the manufacturing to EMSs like Flextronics(165.000 employees) or Foxconn (113.000 employees). Outsourcing manufacturing to specialized firms is the norm in their industries. Foxconn manufacturers for Apple and Intel while Microsoft is a customer of Flextronics.
This architectural or operational model looks very convincing since the story line “Concentrate on the core” sounds very plausible. By concentrating on your core capabilities, you focus on what you are strong at. In the case of Apple, that is design, usability, marketing and branding.
The perils of the “core”
However, there is a peril in this model as well, particularly when you are not as strong in core capabilities. E.g. Hong-Ta Corporation was the manufacturer of the innovative Palm Treo 650 or of the Compaq iPaq, one of the first smartphones. Today, HTC as the firm is known today is very strong in smartphones and was one of pioneers in phones with Google’s operating system Android. Interestingly, Palm and Compaq are today irrelevant in the growing markets for smartphones. And both former pioneers are now part of Hewlett Packard.
Backwards Integration: You can do the opposite as well