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.

I always want to understand why people do this or this. I want to understand business model and the underlying economics of very different industries and that is the reason why I love asking questions, particularly why an industry is doing it this way or another.

Become childlike, ask why

Become childlike again and look at the world with fresh eyes. Children want to understand the why. Why did we forget our curiosity?

So if you want to change your industry and come up with a great idea for a business model innovation, ask questions about the current business model.

  • Ask what value you create for your customers and other value partners?
  • Ask how do you create the value?
  • Ask how do you earn money?

Question your existing business model

Do you have answers? Do your colleagues have the same answers? Ask if the answers to your question make sense or is the existing business model just a construct of the past? What would you change if you would start from the scratch?  Would you do it the same way?

And with all the questions you ask and the answers you find, you become very creative. You understand the business model of your industry and you will find points which you can change.

And then: Change them. Just do it!

This post was inspired by Seth Godins post: You’re nuts if you believe me.


  1. Become childlike was the best advice I gave myself ten years ago starting as an it-journalist. It still is the base for my new company where I help SMB-companies to find new businessmodels based on their existing resources.

    Be an eight year old and lok into the world with open mind

    1. @Mark
      You are right with being a child. We know how to do the complex things but forget the easy things. Einstein once said he just wanted to answer questions he had already as a child like “What is time?”, “What is space?”. Usually, we forget these questions when we get older.

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