• Karen Zeigler

Business Model Innovation Like the Giants in 6 Easy Steps

Updated: Jul 28

Diving into the business model of the Giants

On one occasion when I applying for a position that utilized my love for writing, collaborating, and design thinking the job description required familiarity with the business model of Giants like Amazon, Alibaba, and Google. My focus and experience had been on other areas of innovation, so I thought it prudent to conduct some research.

As I dug into the success of the Giants, I noticed an underlying framework. Yes, it's true they each have uniquely different business models. In part, it's why they are the most innovative business models today. Well, that and they make billions in revenue each year. It's likely no coincidence the models appeared to have traces of design thinking. This post shares what I learned and six simple questions you can ask to begin to transform your business model.

Six Simple Questions to Transform Your Business Model

Nevertheless, many CEOs are just beginning to become aware of the potential of design thinking. And it is in service to you (CEOs) that I provide a framework of questions that can transform your company's innovation and business model. Dig into these six questions and discover a treasure of new opportunities to serve your customers, your team, and your shareholders.

#1: Who are my People of Interest? Think tribe, not individual.

In each of the Giant's business models, I noticed that they had identified the various tribes of people they had influence over. Notice it could be the label you give the people (like customers) or the product/service you provide (like digital media) that connects people into a tribe.

For example: For Google, their tribes are users (individuals using their search engine), businesses (wanting to advertise to their users), and content creators (Writers). Amazon's tribes were consumers, sellers (individual and commercial), businesses/developers, and content creators. Alibaba's tribes were broke down slightly different - core commerce (which they separate into wholesale and retail), cloud computing, digital media, and entertainment.

#2: What do my tribes want?*

Next, it was clear from the research that these Giants took a human-centered approach to research. Asking members of each tribe what they wanted and tuning into unmet needs. Not necessarily from the company but in general terms. For example, asking writers what they wanted. The larger your company, the more overwhelmed leaders often become with this task. However, from the standards of the Giants, it can be done. Eli Itin Innovation Consultant for NSI and Professor at Emeritus Institute of Management teaches that interviews with as few as eight people suffices. I find the following questions uncover a breadth and depth of information

  1. As a (writer, seller, etc.) What's working for you/your business?

  2. What's not working for you/your business?

  3. How could improvements be ma