Guest blog by Alan Moore, guest lecturer at Bradford University School of Management and author of No Straight Lines: Making Sense of Our Non-linear World
Wherever you look in our world, you have to agree that the way we are living is unsustainable.
Businesses are using resources – from energy to raw materials – without concern for the society we live in. The banking crash was the most shocking example of greed that few of us could really even have imagined. And of course it is ordinary people who are paying the price for years to come.
1. Today’s business models were designed for simpler times
The big problem is that our businesses, organisations and systems were designed for much simpler times. The introduction of technology on to a poorly designed system, is not a panacea it can make matters worse – failing to deliver the dreamed-for cost-savings and efficiencies.
You only have to look at the UK’s public health system, the NHS, to see the monumental waste that technology can trigger.
The Taxpayer’s Alliance heavily criticised the NHS for abandoning a major IT project. The central data project cost the taxpayer £12.7bn – and one might say that the IT industry has been fleecing the government for 20 years, so this figure will just be the tip of the iceberg.
What does the future look like for businesses that can model their business with entirely new thinking?
2. Three examples of radically innovative businesses
Let’s look at just three innovative business models that demonstrate how we could all be saving time, money and, above all, resources if we can only think radically enough
– Local Motors – a company that can build cars 5x faster and for 100x less capital than the most ‘efficient’ traditional car manufacturers can produce
– Grow VC – a community-based platform for entrepreneurs and investors; more than crowd funding, it is an ecosystem where entrepreneurs can connect with experts, funders, team members, new customers and partners to realize their ideas
– Patients Know Best – that empowers people with chronic healthcare problems to better manage their own healthcare in participation with clinicians.
3. Emotional connection with a brand is not enough
Last year, I wrote about the demise of Kodak. I had a soft spot for this camera, as did so many others. Despite this emotional connection with the brand and the personal histories most of us have with Kodak, they were unable to capitalise on this and adapt to an ambiguous world.
4. Designing for transformation
I have created a model to help businesses design for transformation, outlined in detail in my book, No Straight Lines.
The cycle is shown below and is all about ambiguity, adaptiveness, openness to new ideas, a participatory culture, craftsmanship and designing for transformation.
5. Avoiding your last Kodak moment
So what do businesses need to do? Last year I wrote a Huffington Post blog which outlined six things that businesses need to embrace to avoid their ‘last Kodak moment’.
- Accept the uncertainties in our ambiguous world and become master of them. This needs some humility and deep listening
- Research how to become adaptive and agile. You need to upgrade constantly in hardware, software, organizational structures, business models
- Learn to live and work in an open culture and economy
- Start working in participatory cultures as a sustainable way in economics, innovation, organization and leadership
- Learn to become comfortable with the idea of craftsmanship as a personal and internal culture as a process for discovery, the development of insights, technique and creativity
- Design for transformation – have the vision, courage and conviction to seek and implement lasting change.
Some businesses are already wholeheartedly embracing these changes. And I’m delighted to learn about the new Innovation, Enterprise and Circular Economy MBA at Bradford which is exactly about addressing this new thinking.
But what about all the other outmoded organisations? What do they fear most from change – and how do we help them to move into the future?