Thursday, April 30, 2009

Strategic Planning: How to RE-think Your Business Model

This year, a LOT of people seem to be wanting to re-think their business models. This is a pretty good idea, because some things are changing in the world economy at a very fundamental level.

I do have to question the wisdom of tackling this for the first time in a recession, though - and here's why: tuning up a business model requires good information from the market.
The information from the market right now suggests (for example) that US consumers only want to buy 6 million vehicles a year. This is obviously poppycock, as anyone in the auto industry could tell you - but behaviors change during a recession.

When you are re-designing your business model, you are trying to create a structure that will work for you ALL the time - in both good times and bad. In many cases, the best business models simply don't work that well during a recession - so you have to structure your business to weather the storm.

All this being said, some markets may be changing so fundamentally that it would be suicidal NOT to re-examine your business model. So what is the best process for doing this?
In strategic planning, the business model is often one of the core strategic issues, so I often find myself tinkering with it.

In the past 20 years, I've found myself making excellent changes - and sometimes not so excellent ones. Here are a few things I've learned from the hundreds of times I've tackled this:

1. Build your model on DATA, not emotion
2. Understand ALL FLOWS in your model - not just the easy ones
3. Start with an understanding of your STRATEGIC COMPETENCY
4. Looking at your current model, ask WHY and WHY NOT about every area where customer value is not optimized
5. Pay close attention to the things EVERYONE IS DOING - and figure out how to avoid them
6. When you have a new model you like, SHOOT HOLES IN IT - and then fix them
7. Make sure you have a good EXECUTION PLAN for making sure the model changes - you will meet resistance!

My next few posts will be about each of these points, and some of the things I do to assure the output is a sturdy, viable business model.

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1 comment:

Ann Zuccardy said...

I love the "evergreen-ness" of this post. I especially love the first tip about building your business based on data rather than emotion. Sure, it's great to "follow your bliss", but without a solid foundation based in reality, your "bliss" may become the bane of your existence.