4 simple steps to re-create your future

  • Business Model Innovation

Innovation in uncertain times

It goes without saying: the world is filled with uncertainty. Yet, while this is scary to say the least, with more uncertainty comes more opportunity. Think about it. As the world tries to wrap its arms around the global pandemic known as COVID-19, countless millions are coming out of the woodwork to help in one way or another. Many of these heroes are starting completely new ventures or pivoting existing ones in order to help anyone and everyone they can. In global calamities such as we’re seeing at this very moment, what we need most are a few leaders to step up, find the opportunities, and allow the collective to scale them.


In the business world it’s no different. While we’re all scrambling to either keep our businesses afloat or scale to address global needs, out of the other side of this current crisis there will be a similar need with longer term strategic ramifications. That is to say, the world has changed once again. And in order to harness opportunity from mass uncertainty, we must change the way we think about our own businesses. At BMI•, we believe this comes down to the following four steps.


1. Re-think: think it all over again

It’s been said before: if you don’t know where you are, how can you know where you’re going? One of the first things you must do as you pick up the pieces and begin the process of re-designing your strategy within our new paradigm, is to unravel how your business became what it is at this very moment. This’s about scanning the context (both past and present), doubling down on understanding what people really need and want, and dissecting your business model to understand where it needs to be rethought in order to address new opportunities. Ask yourself these questions: What happened in the context surrounding my business? What’s broken in my current business model that won’t work now or in the future? What do my customers need and want and what don’t they need and want?


2. Re-imagine – what do we see next?

The opportunities made clearer through uncertainty can only be harnessed if we’re willing to reimagine what we might do in different future contexts. Mind you, this isn’t about a single future; this is about looking at our businesses from multiple angles and in different futures, then adjusting our vision(s) to address each future. Think about it this way: knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently (short and midterm) to help your business thrive in uncertain times like we’re experiencing now? How would this change your vision? This shouldn’t just be about cost cutting alone. This is about imaging multiple future scenarios where your business thrives.


3. Re-design – design differently

Ideas are worth nothing more than the space they take up on a single sticky note. Once you’ve reimagined possible futures, you must begin the work of designing (or redesigning) wholly new value propositions embedded in business models that have also been designed for the future. In most cases this means you’ll need to consider how to design for digital value propositions, channels, and business models. And, just as you cannot predict a single future, don’t design one value proposition or business model and hope for the best. Create options that you can test, deploying the right elements at the right time and place based on feedback.


4. Re-start – a new way of working

The critical thing to understand about uncertainty, is that it’s always present. Sometimes it’s just more present than others. Dealing with uncertainty is therefore not a tomorrow thing. It’s an everyday endeavor that requires us to adapt and employ new ways or working. As you work through your future strategies, consider how you might build internal capabilities to scale resilience throughout your organization. This is about getting everyone to think and work like (digital) entrepreneurs, always experimenting, learning, and scaling new business models to meet the needs of today and the future.


It must be said, the above four steps are jampacked with tough but strategic conversations and activities many have not engaged in at scale and with speed. For many of today’s tech startups, this is simply the norm. For larger organizations, this is where panic sets in. The key then is that just as startups can learn from large organizations, there’s a lot that large organizations can learn from startups. And, just as we’ll eventually exit this current calamity, eventually we’ll find ourselves and our businesses thrust into a new paradigm. Knowing this, we might as well design for it now and take agency in re-creating our own future and that of our businesses.