Ideation process can take several forms because it is all about innovation and using creative approaches to design a business model. I suggest you to use the Silly Cow to break the ice and take your team out of their day to day job routine.
The Silly Cow exercise might sound silly. But it’s been tested globally & has been proven to be a great practice to get everyone ready to produce innovative ideas
Here is how silly cow exercise should be done:
Begin by asking your team to talk about the characteristics of a Cow! It could be a good breaking exercise for opening a session
Then, ask everyone to sketch 3 different business models using a picture of a cow.
The goal of this exercise is to use the characteristics of the cow and churn out an innovative business model.
It should not take long, so make sure the exercise does not exceed 3 minutes.
Once you’re done with your silly cow exercise, you can begin working on the 5 steps of the actual ideation process
Here is the breakdown of all 5 steps of ideation process:
Step #1: Gather the Troops
The first thing you should do is team composition. At this stage just be honest with yourself and answer this key question: Is our team sufficiently diverse to come up with innovative business model ideas?
Don’t be selective and form a team with diversity in terms of seniority, age, experience level, business unit represented, customer knowledge, and professional expertise. You can use these techniques when assembling a diverse team
Try to get everyone involved, not only the “creative ones” as they are human and have their blind spots too.
Don’t forget to invite those who are involved and impacted by all nine blocks of the canvas, whether Distribution Channels, Revenue Streams, or Key Resources to join the brainstorming session.
Make sure everyone knows what’s active listening. If they don’t, teach them.
Embrace Ideation as a team exercise, ask for participation and let a neutral party facilitate the process.
People, often stick to cost reduction strategy or promoting a revenue booster product. These methods have nothing to do with innovation.
Encourage your team to suggest ideas from all 9 building blocks.
Do not outsource or delegate the ideation process to your R&D unit. You can invite them to participate but it should never be in one unit’s hand!
Make your team as diverse as possible. The diversity will help you generate, discuss, and select new ideas.
Step #2: Immersion
Once you’ve got everyone on-board, you should focus on research and data gathering, and a little bit of analysis.
The key question at this point of time should be around research areas. It’s essential to know which elements you should study before begin generating business model ideas?
Your team and you must ideally go through an immersion phase in which you’d study certain areas of your business. For instance, depending on your business objectives, you might have to look into customer behaviors or how to engage with prospects. You may also consider exploring the impacts of shifting to new technologies, and the limitation of your existing business models, etc.
There is actually no time limit you could force to finish the immersion phase as it might take as long as a few months or could be concluded in a couple of exercises such as Empathy Map.
Step #3: Expanding
The next step is to identify your starting points and learn how to expand from there.
During expansion phase you must concentrate on your starting points to generate business ideas. You must make sure that you’ve overseen all 9 building blocks of your business model canvas.
The key question should be about what business innovations can we imagine for each building block? How innovative can we be in our revenue stream, or customer relationships, etc.!
At this stage, you shouldn’t worry too much about the quality of your business model ideas because what matters now is quantity, not quality. The more business ideas you have the better, so don’t criticize the ideas too early, instead, focus on brainstorming and record all ideas.
Brainstorming is a process where people share their ideas on how to achieve certain goals and objectives. It is imperative that a brainstorming session is well facilitated, otherwise it could be a complete disaster and waste of time.
Here are some great tips to conduct a brainstorming session:
Start with Problem statement and make it very clear to everyone. The objective of your brainstorming session is to find ideas that can result in addressing the problem statement. In this case where we are looking for ideas for business model innovation, your problem statement should be about addressing customer’s needs and desires.
Stay Focused! Keep the brainstorming session towards the right direction.
If the discussion is dragged or strays from its intended direction, you should pause, step back, and bring the team member’s attention to your problem statement.
Make sure you clarify and enforce the brainstorming rules beforehand.
Here are a few general rules you can implement:
One conventional at a time
Be as visual as possible
Encourage out of the box ideas
Always use sticky notes (also known as post-it™ notes) and write or sketch on them. This way you can easily move ideas around or even take the off the canvas, if necessary.
Step #4: Criteria selection
Now that your brainstorming session is over, you should have lots of ideas to refer too. Having lots of ideas might be confusing, that’s why the next step is to prioritize them using critical criteria.
Your primary concern should be about figuring out the most important criteria for prioritizing your business model ideas?
The rule of thumb is defining criteria is to select a few manageable ideas that are related to the context of your business.
Then depending on your objective, you can now consider choosing factors such as execution and delivery time, ROI, and competitive advantages, etc.
It’s absolutely necessary to include factors that might enthuse your customers not to accept your new business model easily?
Step #5: Prototyping
Now that you have shortlisted a few ideas, it’s time to get to the bottom of it.
Since you have defined your criteria in the previous stage, and you have compared the shortlisted business models you can reduce the number of business model ideas to minimum 3 and maximum 5 potential business models.
Prepare the business model for each shortlisted idea and start compering them. You must at least know how do these business models look like. This is where you can choose which business model innovation you should be focusing on…