Lateral Thinking meets Business Model Innovation

random wordsLateral thinking can be thought of as logical thinking but form a different starting point. If you are able to shift your starting point enough before your logical mind gets to work, you can find yourself with surprising results. Hopefully, novel ideas with some value that you just wouldn’t have thought of using regular logical thinking.

The use of random words is one of many techniques designed to disrupt your regular, left brain thinking and enable you to start thinking creatively. In this post, I’ll continue my theme of putting the innovation back into business model innovation by applying the random word technique to business model innovation.

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Using Five Whys to find Customer Jobs

EinsteinIf I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it (Albert Einstein)

Making sure you are solving the right problem is THE most important part of business model innovation. In terms of developing your value proposition, this means spending time discovering which jobs matter most to your customers, before you go looking for solutions that will offer effective pain relief and gain generation. This post is part 3 of my series on using creative thinking techniques to put the innovation back into business model innovation. In today’s post, I’ll be looking at how the Five Whys technique can be used to get to the heart of the problem your business model is trying to solve.

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Creativity and Business Model Innovation (part 2)

flickrThis week I am looking at different ways we can put the innovation back into business model innovation. Taking the approach that creativity in thinking can be done deliberately, I’m applying various deliberate creative thinking techniques to what is now becoming the familiar area of business model generation, lean startups and customer development. Last week I looked at using the TERMS Star for putting your value innovation into hyper drive, today I’ll take a look at using SCAMPER to power up your disruption when pivoting from one business model to another.

What happened to Game Neverending?

Game Neverending (GNE) was a web based massively multiplayer online game launched in late 2002 and shutdown in 2004. Designed to be user extensible, the game encouraged real time browser chat with players leaving messages and game objects for each other at various locations. With poorly defined gameplay (there wasn’t even really a concept of winning), players quickly developed strong social connections with lots of humour and quite a few pictures being exchanged along with the intended gaming objects. By 2004, the site had relaunched as Flickr.

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Creativity and Business Model Innovation (part 1)

Business model innovation and the search for a scalable business model has been a hot topic over the last couple of years with the explosion of lean startups, customer discovery, and business model generation. But where is the actual innovation in all of this? I am seeing a lot of trial and error but not so much thoughtful creativity as entrepreneurs continuously pivot and validate until they strike business model gold. It might be agile but is it innovative?

Over the next week I’ll be looking at how structured creativity can help put the innovation back into business model innovation. If you want to know how Six Thinking Hats, the five whys, SCAMPER, random word generation or the hall of fame can help to uncover more innovative business models, then this series is for you. Let’s start by looking at how the TERMS Star can help develop more creative value propositions.

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Business Model Reinvention

I once worked for a firm who found themselves going through a rough patch. With staff leaving left, right and centre the department was quickly dwindling to the point of no return. With no clear direction, a decimated sales pipeline, and a team of under motivated staff we were finally paid a visit by our otherwise inattentive divisional head. I still remember his opening comments for the one and only one hour workshop that was allocated to saving our skins:

So. Our business plan doesn’t seem to be working. Has anyone got any ideas what our new business plan should be. And can you make it fit on a single page of A4 so I can present it to the group strategy meeting at the end of the month. They like a lot of charts, so go easy on the word count.

And that was pretty much it. A somewhat stunned silence was met with a few half-hearted ideas and very little constructive discussion. The team was all gone within two months.

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Customer Development as a Design Squiggle

Damien Newman used the design squiggle to illustrate the Design Thinking approach to solving problems.

It’s a really neat way of communicating the basic premise behind design thinking, and I like it a lot. Applied to business model innovation it shows the initial chaos and movement that surrounds any new business model as the founders get to grips with their concept. But what happens if we apply the squiggle to customer development?

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Provoking your Business Model

This post continues my exploration of lateral thinking techniques and their application to the business model generation space. You can see my original post on how lateral thinking applies to business problems here, and a previous post on using random word entry to stimulate business mode innovation here.

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Using Random Words to Disrupt your Business Model

Lateral thinking is all about movement, and the deliberate movement of logical thinking to enable creative thinking. When it works, we can look backwards from our creative solution and make sense of the path we took to get there. But looking forwards “we just can’t get there from here”.

De Bono uses a number of techniques to achieve lateral thinking. One such method is random entry, the concept of using a different, randomly selected starting point as part of the creative problem solving process. You can do this with a well selected pool of words to be drawn on at random:

  • Bench, envelope, radio, landlord, candy, gutter, sword, motor, bag, chain, beer, shoe, egg, field, gun, wine, acid, parking meter, brick, lipstick, ring, ghost, peanut, olive, panda, salt, windsurfer, pilot, barbeque, arrow, turtle, hockey, tent, diaper, jam, silver, stomach, mouth, champagne, ashtray, x-ray, artist, storm, flamingo, truck, volcano, mud, ostrich, caviar, bubble, helmet, screwdriver, bath, dinner, key, rocket, coupon, Christmas, politician, chimney, herd, flute, subway, beer, dictionary, clouds, canister

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Hill Climbing, Lateral Thinking and Blue Ocean Strategy

Hill Climbing and the Problem of Local Optima

In computer science, the Hill Climbing algorithm is an iterative technique for solving problems from a random starting point. Imagine an explorer being helicoptered into a hilly landscape and told to climb to the top of the nearest hill. They might not find the highest peak in the range, but they’ll find the highest point around where they started. This is known as the problem of ‘local optima’. You get around by running the process over and over again from a lot of different random starting points.

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Business Model Innovation

Note: This article was originally posted here, on InnovationExcellence. I thought I would repost it here.

Nine out of ten business start-ups, and one in six business transformations will confirm it. If you want to be part of the one in ten who succeeds, you’ll need to search for the answers first. By innovating our business model before we start executing, we can improve our chances of success and reduce the high risk and high cost of failure in an uncertain environment.

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