Archive for May, 2012

CEO’s Can’t Tweak Their Way To Innovation

May 22nd, 2012

This post appeared on the Fortune Magazine site here and was adapted from my new book, The Business Model Innovation Factory.

images-3221Sometimes tweaks aren’t enough. Sometimes nothing short of reinventing yourself, your organization, or your community is called for. The start of the 21st century is one of those times. If anything is certain about the new millennium it’s the pace of change. New technology relentlessly hurdles into our lives. Ideas and practices travel around the world at Internet speed. Social media enables individuals to self organize and reorganize in ways unimaginable in the 20th century. We also live in anxious times marked by economic uncertainty but one thing is clear, relevancy is more fleeting than ever. How to stay relevant in a changing and uncertain world is one of the most important questions of our time.

Thriving in the midst of today’s frenetic pace of change requires a new set of approaches and tools. Incremental change may have been enough at the end of an industrial era marked by me-too products and services, process re-engineering, best practices, benchmarks, and continuous improvement. We have built institutions that are far better at share taking than at market making. We have become really good at tweaks. There are tons of books, experts, and tools to help us make marginal improvements in the way things work today and to fight it out with existing competitors for one more share point. But how do we become market makers? Incremental change may be necessary but it isn’t sufficient for the 21st century defined by next practices, disruptive technologies, market making, and transformation. Read more

Random Collision Theory of Innovation

May 9th, 2012

This post appeared on the Fortune Magazine Site here and was adapted from my new book, The Business Model Innovation Factory.


Collaborators are everywhere. You will find them in the gray areas between silos. Just look up from your current business model. Seek out difference and gather often across boundaries, disciplines, and sectors. Be open and be curious. Beware of random collisions with unusual suspects. Unless, of course, if you want to learn something new. In that case seek out innovators from across every imaginable silo and listen, really listen, to their stories. New ideas, perspectives, and the value creating opportunities are in the gray areas between the unusual suspects. And yet we spend most of our time with the usual suspects in our respective silos. We need to get out of our silos more.

It is human nature to surround ourselves with people who are exactly like us. We connect and spend time with people who share a common world-view, look the same, enjoy the same activities, and speak the same language. We join clubs to be with others like us. The club most worth belonging to is the non-club club. The most valuable tribe is a tribe of unusual suspects who can challenge your world-view, expose you to new ideas, and teach you something new. A tribe of unusual suspects can change the world if it is connected in purposeful ways.

It is easy to see the potential from enabling random collisions of unusual suspects. Just check out any social media platform. Read more

The Problem With Design Thinking

May 2nd, 2012

This post appeared on theĀ Fortune Magazine site here and was adapted from my new book, The Business Model Innovation Factory.

images-321Believe in the power of design. Through it, we will chart the landscape of possibility – designing, testing and prototyping new terrain. Be a market maker rather than a share taker.

Business model innovators are always seeking out places and events with a strong design vibe. They love to hang around really smart design thinkers and the places they hang out in hopes that some of it will rub off. I am convinced that design thinking and process is a key enabler of business model innovation so I have been hanging out with lots of design types. If you hang around enough designers you immediately get pulled into their active conversation about design’s place in the innovation narrative. After participating in many of these conversations I am left with a strong sense that the design community needs to move on from the incessant argument over the importance of design thinking and process. It is time to claim victory. Get over it. The argument is boring. Design is important. We stipulate that design is about more than sexy products. We get that design is about delivering a compelling customer experience. We know that business model innovation is fundamentally about designing new ways to create, deliver and capture value. Now, can we get on with putting design thinking and process to work to enable business model innovation?

No more books are needed to convince us that design thinking and process are a priority. They are important tools. If you want to convince us, stop talking about design thinking, and start putting it to work to mobilize new business models, transform customer experiences and enable real systems change. Business model innovation requires a strong design vibe that leads to trying more stuff and putting the tools to work rather than the navel gazing of today’s design thinking debate. It is time to move the design conversation to a new, actionable, place. Read more