The problem with having a core-business…

… is that your entire organisation is in crisis when the market or market needs change.

If your organisation is based on a single business model, and this model, for whatever reason, is not working anymore, you’re screwed. Our current economic crisis is a structural crisis in so many ways. Besides the ecological and social challenges that ask for a new and disruptive approach, organisations have another big issue to solve: the way we work has changed.

The way it was

Production used to be centralized, IP and patents were your biggest innovation assets, consumers were seen as rational, loyalty to a company resulted in doing your work better, and the big organisations defined how the game was played. All of this is changing, and most of the big, slow, and well-known corporations have no answer to these changes.

Right now these companies are hiding behind the excuse of an economic crisis to keep from changing. They’re holding on to their business models, trying to reduce costs as much as possible to keep it running. Instead of analysing the root-cause and solving the problem, they’re hiding and hoping the problems will solve themselves.

They wont.

The way it will be

If you want to prepare for some of the global challenges we’re facing (from global inequality over ecological sustainability to a stable economic system), it might be usefull to start thinking about some of the things listed below. Not only are they smart points to be working on when in crisis, they will also, ultimately, make your company capable of doing great stuff both for the planet and the people involved (customers, stakeholders and employees).

  • From core-business to project based working: With several projects running, it’s OK if one fails. You’re company’s not dependent on that single lead. Start-up several micro-business models in your organisation. In that way, your covering more of your market and targeting your customers in a much more direct way.
  • Intrapreneurship: Give your employees the chance of doing stuff. Give them the room to start their own projects, and with them, improve their skills and your company.
  • Open-source: The costs for buying patents, maintaining IP and fighting over copyright-cases are getting sky high. And while fighting over IP, most companies are getting out-innovated by small start-ups. One advice: Open up your business model. I can recommend this tool made by some friends of mine to help you in defining how and where you can open up your business model.
  • Closed loops and product service systems: Materials will become increasingly more expensive. By actively trying to close your product life-cycle, you might find some new ways of engaging customers in a long-term relationship, and help the environment while doing so (for a good infographic on product service systems, check out this post by Plan C).
  • On growing: And last but not least: only grow if it will make your company better. Don’t grow because it’s expected, don’t grow because you don’t know how to work without growth. Grow because you’ll create a bigger impact, but keep in mind where your optimum lies (flexibility versus impact).

Of course all these points are difficult to work towards, especially if you’re not starting from scratch. But as I’m seeing this crisis unfolding, it’s either changing or dying.


About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.

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