The Art and Science of Business Growth
Briefly, I’m going to make the case for using Business Model Innovation as the best approach for forming a competitive strategy. You’ll be pleased to know that the process is lean, imaginative, and uses a simple, but powerful method to analyze the business. So, let’s debunk the myth that strategy planning is a dry, painful exercise that results in an elaborate plan, that’s outdated before it’s underway.
I recently presented a short talk on developing a winning strategy. My goal was to convert a topic that gets lots of yawns, into an activity people actually look forward to doing. (really!) I wouldn’t be writing this post if it wasn’t a success. Two things led to these ideas being embraced by the audience. First, I made the process tangible and easy to understand. The one-page Business Model Blueprint that I created is a great tool for this. (download it on Align’s homepage) Secondly, I used a creative thinking exercise to activate the imaginations of the people in the room, to produce a range of innovative ideas about how a particular business could create value differently.
It was the art and science of the process that worked for people. Strategy can’t be abstract and shouldn’t be bogged down with business school jargon. I also believe that because I start the discussion with Purpose, it establishes a personal and meaningful place to gain commitment.
To facilitate the analytical work, start with your business model. This represents the configuration of 12 key factors that work in synergy to create meaning for customers, and competitiveness and profitability for the business. The business model provides a high-level view of why and how the business operates, as well as the context in which it operates. It provides a broader perspective and scope.
Secondly, products need to be differentiated. There needs to be a compelling reason why customers choose you. Providing generally the same thing everyone else does, will not lead to differentiation. Nor can you benefit from some kind of operational advantage if your business model looks like everyone else’s. The business model helps you think about more than simply the product, operations and marketing.
If you’re not tapping into sources of imagination, it will be hard to come up with something new and different. This is the area where businesses often struggle, and it’s helpful to have someone facilitate creative thinking and provide some feedback on how to foster creativity on a regular basis. It’s not enough to come up with great ideas, they need to be linked back to the analytical process that pointed to gaps and weaknesses in your business model. Then it’s time to prototype and test your new ideas.
Strategy should be considered a theory of cause and effect. The Business Model Blueprint is simply a framework for seeing all the inter-related parts of the business, and how they work together to produce outcomes. Innovating your business model is how your business says relevant and competitive. By assessing where your business is now, and envisioning a more vibrant future, you can identify the strategic objectives that appear to be the most promising approach for getting from A to B.
Learn more about Strategy Sprints and Spark Circles which are two of Align’s techniques for fostering progress in both the art and science of growing your business.