Business model design: asking the right questions

BM processDesigning or improving a successful business model, business planning, means on one hand building and validating a credible story regarding how specific resources could be (better) mobilized to solve a specific problem and on the other hand selling that story to the relevant internal and external stakeholders.

BMQA business model will be convincing if it addresses in a consistent way four key questions:  1) Why is there a problem and why are we well positioned to solve it? 2) What exactly could be sold to whom and how? 3) Who needs to be mobilized? 4) How much is at stake?

Fig_4_4Finding new ways to address the why, what, who and how much key questions around the same innovation opportunity can allow managers to design innovative business models.

BMKQSuccessful entrepreneurs and investors do not plan to fail. They prioritize the “why?” and “who?” key questions when assessing an innovative business opportunity. They know that the technology specifications (“what?”) and financial spreadsheets (“how much?”) will change and will need a lot of time and further effort to be fixed.


Successful business model design (business planning)

  • (Book) Gassmann, Oliver, and Fiona Schweitzer. “Managing the unmanageable: the fuzzy front end of innovation.” Management of the Fuzzy front end of innovation. Springer International Publishing, 2014. 3-14.
  • (Book) Henderson, P. (2015) “You Can Kill An Idea, But You Can’t Kill An Opportunity: How to Discover New Sources of Growth for Your Organization” , Wiley
  • (Book) Van de Ven, A., Douglas Polley, Raghu Garud, and Sankaran Venkataraman (2008) The Innovation Journey; Oxford University Press
  • (Video) Entrepreneurship Series – Business Plan Writing 101, Wharton School
  • (Video) Ep 1 – Getting From Business Idea to Business Model – Strategyzer
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  • (Article) Zott, C., Amit, R., & Massa, L. (2011). The business model: recent developments and future research. Journal of Management, 37(4), 1019-1042.

The key questions: Why (us)? What? Who? How much?

  • (Book) Carlson, C. R., & Wilmot, W. W. (2006). Innovation: The five disciplines for creating what customers want. Crown Business.
  • (Book) Osterwalder A. and Pigneur, Y, (2010) Business Model Generation, John Wiley
  • (Video) The Zinnovants “Asking yourself the right questions”
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  • (Article) Reginato, J. M. (2009). Evaluating project robustness through the lens of the business model. International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management, 6(02), 155-167.
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  • (Article) Timmons, J. A. 1980. A business plan is more than a financing device. Harvard Business Review, March – April: 53–59
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  • (Article) West III, G. P., & Noel, T. W. (2009). The impact of knowledge resources on new venture performance. Journal of Small Business Management, 47(1), 1-22.
  • (Article) Zott, Christoph, and Raphael Amit. “Business model design: an activity system perspective.” Long range planning 43.2 (2010): 216-226.

Designing innovative business models

  • (Book) Gassmann, Oliver, Frankenberger, Karolin, Sauer, Roman (2016) Exploring the Field of Business Model Innovation: New Theoretical Perspectives, Spinger
  • (Book) Johnson, M. W. (2010). Seizing the white space: Business model innovation for growth and renewal. Harvard Business Press.
  • (Book) Kaplan, S. (2012). The business model innovation factory: How to stay relevant when the world is changing. John Wiley & Sons.
  • (Video)  Business Model Innovation HSGUniStGallen
  • (Video) Strategy tools for Business Model Innovation – Engage Innovate
  • (Article) Amit, R., & Zott, C. (2012). Creating value through business model innovation. MIT Sloan Management Review, 53(3), 41.
  • (Article) Casadesus-Masanell, Ramon, and Joan Enric Ricart. “From strategy to business models and onto tactics.” Long Range Planning 43.2 (2010): 195-215.
  • (Article) Chesbrough, H. “Business model innovation: it’s not just about technology anymore.” Strategy & Leadership 35.6 (2007): 12-17.
  • (Article) Chesbrough, H. (2010). Business model innovation: opportunities and barriers. Long Range planning, 43(2), 354-363.
  • (Article) Cosenz, F., & Noto, G. (2018). A dynamic business modelling approach to design and experiment new business venture strategies. Long Range Planning, 51(1), 127-140.
  • (Article) Christensen, C. M., Bartman, T., & Van Bever, D. (2016). The hard truth about business model innovation. MIT Sloan Management Review, 58(1), 31.
  • (Article) Demil, B., & Lecocq, X. (2010). Business model evolution: in search of dynamic consistency. Long Range Planning, 43(2-3), 227-246.
  • (Article) Desyllas, P., & Sako, M. (2013). Profiting from business model innovation: Evidence from Pay-As-You-Drive auto insurance. Research Policy, 42(1), 101-116.
  • (Article) Fehrer, J. A., Woratschek, H., & Brodie, R. J. (2018). A systemic logic for platform business models. Journal of Service Management, 29(4), 546-568.
  • (Article) Foss, N. J., & Saebi, T. (2017). Fifteen years of research on business model innovation: How far have we come, and where should we go?. Journal of Management, 43(1), 200-227.
  • (Article) Frankenberger, K., Weiblen, T., Csik, M., & Gassmann, O. (2013). The 4I-framework of business model innovation: A structured view on process phases and challenges. International Journal of Product Development, 18(3-4), 249-273.
  • (Article) Frankenberger, K., & Stam, W. (2019). Entrepreneurial copycats: A resource orchestration perspective on the link between extra-industry business model imitation and new venture growth. Long Range Planning.
  • (Article) Gambardella, A., & McGahan, A.M. (2010). Business-model innovation: General purpose technologies and their implications for industry structure. Long Range Planning, 43(2), 262-271.
  • (Article) Girotra, K., & Netessine, S. (2014). Four paths to business model innovation. Harvard Business Review, 92(7), 96-103.
  • (Article) Hamari, J., Sjöklint, M., & Ukkonen, A. (2016). The sharing economy: Why people participate in collaborative consumption. Journal of the association for information science and technology, 67(9), 2047-2059.
  • (Article) Hargadon, A. (2015). How to discover and assess opportunities for business model innovation. Strategy & Leadership, 43(6), 33-37.
  • (Article) Koen, P. A., Bertels, H. M., & Elsum, I. R. (2011). The three faces of business model innovation: Challenges for established firms. Research-Technology Management, 54(3), 52-59.
  • (Article) Mitchell, D. W., & Bruckner Coles, C. (2004). Establishing a continuing business model innovation process. Journal of Business Strategy, 25(3), 39-49.
  • (Article) Rask, M., & Günzel-Jensen, F. (2019). Business model design and performance in nascent markets. Management Decision.
  • (Article) Sinfield, J. V., Calder, E., McConnell, B., & Colson, S. (2012). How to identify new business models. MIT Sloan Management Review, 53(2), 85-90.
  • (Article) Teece, D.J. (2010). Business models, business strategy and innovation. Long Range Planning, 43(2), 172-194.
  • (Article) Teece, D. J. (2018). Business models and dynamic capabilities. Long Range Planning, 51(1), 40-49.

Do not plan to fail

  • (Book) Moore, Geoffrey A. “Crossing the chasm.” (2002).
  • (Video) The Explainer: How to Write a Great Business Plan , HBR
  • (Video) The single biggest reason why startups succeed, Bill Gross, TedxTalk
  • (Article) Balboni, B., Bortoluzzi, G., Pugliese, R., & Tracogna, A. (2019). Business model evolution, contextual ambidexterity and the growth performance of high-tech start-ups. Journal of Business Research, 99, 115-124.
  • (Article) Behrens, J., Ernst, H., & Shepherd, D. A. (2014). The decision to exploit an R&D project: Divergent thinking across middle and senior managers. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 31(1), 144-158.
  • (Article) Bertels, H. M., Koen, P. A., & Elsum, I. (2015). Business models outside the core: Lessons learned from success and failure. Research-Technology Management, 58(2), 20-29.
  • (Article) Buehler, R., Griffin, D. and Ross, M. 1994. Exploring the “Planning Fallacy”: Why People Underestimate Their Task Completion Times. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 67(3):366-381.
  • (Article) Burgers, J. H., Van Den Bosch, F. A., & Volberda, H. W. (2008). Why new business development projects fail: Coping with the differences of technological versus market knowledge. Long Range Planning, 41(1), 55-73.
  • (Article) Dhochak, M., Dhochak, M., Sharma, A. K., & Sharma, A. K. (2016). Identification and prioritization of factors affecting venture capitalists’ investment decision-making process: An analytical hierarchal process (AHP) approach. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 23(4), 964-983.
  • (Article) Feeney, L., Haines Jr, G. H., & Riding, A. L. (1999). Private investors’ investment criteria: insights from qualitative data. Venture Capital, 1(2), 121-145.
  • (Article) Kakati, M. (2003). Success criteria in high-tech new ventures. Technovation, 23(5), 447-457.
  • (Article) Miloud, T., Aspelund, A., & Cabrol, M. (2012). Startup valuation by venture capitalists: an empirical study. Venture Capital, 14(2-3), 151-174.
  • (Article) Muzyka, D., S. Birley and B. Leleux (1996), ‘ Trade-offs in the investment decisions of European venture capitalists’, Journal of Business Venturing, 11(4) , pp. 273-287.
  • (Article) Nielsen, Christian, and Marco Montemari. “The role of human resources in business model performance: the case of network-based companies.” Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting 16.2 (2012): 142-164.
  • (Article) Roure, J. B., & Keeley, R. H. (1990). Predictors of success in new technology based ventures. Journal of Business Venturing, 5(4), 201-220.
  • (Article) Sarason, Y., Dean, T., & Dillard, J. F. (2006). Entrepreneurship as the nexus of individual and opportunity: A structuration view. Journal of Business Venturing, 21(3), 286-305.
  • (Article) Sudek, R. (2006). Angel investment criteria. Journal of Small Business Strategy, 17(2), 89-104.

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