What is your model for business success?

Models are the way we conceptualize and visualize interacting with our customers, our coworkers, our partners and our systems. As the world moves quickly toward 24×7 business and real-time analytics and responses, models are becoming the key to keeping the business intact as the landscape shifts.

Regardless of what’s spelled out implicitly, every business has a model for value creation, delivery and capture. That model may be in the head of only the most senior executives or available for all to touch. There are fewer and fewer excuses for keeping the model to a limited audience.

Living, breathing thing

As important as a model is, it needs to be a living thing, constantly being tested, challenged and changed. Without it, a business has trouble making sure that it ‘works’, and that everyone has the same vision and is able to understand their role and expectations.

Homeless data

A smart organization needs to capture upside, cost and risk measurement as part of efficient and wise operations. The model is the place to ‘hang’ information for execution of strategies to maximize opportunity, keep cost low, and manage risk. Business Intelligence (BI) is in the midst of transition for this very reason…it hasn’t been friendly to business models and served up ‘free floating data.’

Weeds in the cracks

Models get really interesting when you consider that a great deal of challenge like latency, poor service, bad hand-offs and confusion grows in the ‘cracks’ of the business…the places no one is minding. A model allows the organization to map and expose those cracks and then hammer away at inefficiency.

Minding the store

A good model lays out ownership in a way that decision making is specific and delegated. It makes stakeholders discernible. It has change management built in and absolutely isn’t managed as portal-based Visio diagrams.

Mirror, mirror

Very importantly, a model is the way to simulate change and understand what impact specific events will have on the organization. It becomes the plug-and-play template for shared services. It creates a common language that makes conversation internally and with partners sensible.

Social structure

Not an oxymoron, your model is your social structure as well. If anyone believes value comes from simply letting people chat, think again. The best social media implementations mimic the business model and align conversations with opportunity, cost, risk and operations.

Business Model 2.0

If Models weren’t important enough, the Internet and Web continue to change everything and are only getting started. The speed at which we need to listen, analyze/understand and modify our model determines how fast we can detect, decide and act in crucial moments. A solid business model is the bearings that make things turn smoothly and with as little friction as possible.

Models and modeling are important enough that it becomes the first step to solving most problems.

If you’ve gotten this far and haven’t implemented a serious business model, what are you waiting for? If your model is locked down in a document, is that working for you?

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Categories: Infrastructure

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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7 Comments on “What is your model for business success?”

  1. July 18, 2012 at 4:32 am #

    Great post Chris,

    What you mention about a common language came up with a client last week. They had different service centers performing the same processes, but the language and terminology was totally different between centers. Moving towards a common language allows them to communicate to the enterprise with a common voice.

  2. Ron Webb
    July 18, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    Chris, this is the very reason APQC created the first draft of Process Classification Framework (PCF) in the early 1990’s. We found organizations didn’t have a common language to learn from each other. To pile on to Tom’s example, one organization’s “call center” would contact another organization and be turned down for a benchmarking visit because they didn’t have a “call center”, they had a “contact center” (that handled calls, emails, web requests, field service requests, etc.).

    We see in now in healthcare and also the corporate quality function. I have calls almost weekly with someone in one (or both) of those groups that communicates they spend an inordinate amount of time just trying to understand what another organization does or doesn’t do (their activities) to see how they might relate.

    Many times these discussions happen within the same company, too. The CFO and the head of supply chain may or may not have the same understanding of specifically what happens in different parts of the supply chain organization (usually measured by P&L from the CFO’s perspective).

    A wicked problem indeed, but not hard to solve.

    • July 18, 2012 at 9:24 am #

      Absolutely. I suspect that a foundational model (one model to rule them all) is perhaps the least understood, highest-value concept in business.

  3. Robert
    August 3, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    Nice synopsis on the importance of models to the thinkers and doers among us. As a practitioner striking out on my own (recently left healthcare insurance as Director of Business Process Engineering to find some other verticals to work), I really enjoy sharing ideas with other like minded folks. I have come to believe strongly in business models as well as models for the interactions between and among key stakeholders within the value chains (can’t forget SOA with BPM).

    I plan to use the business model canvas from the guys here http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas prior to accepting any assignments. I find that a short trip through the canvas for a given company is invaluable in identifying my understanding and more importantly, the gaps in my knowledge about a particular business.

    Have you used their method or something similar in your work? Seems quite useful to getting started prior to the deep dive with APQC, VCG and the like.

    Best regards.

    • August 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

      This is a very undersold and poorly understood value, but perhaps the most important thing you can do. I haven’t used it but will look into it.

      • Robert
        August 5, 2012 at 10:59 am #

        Like to hear your thoughts once you’ve digested the approach.

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