It ain’t what you do (it’s the way that you do it)

People always look a bit shocked when I tell them I’m not interested in what they’re offering, the specs, how it stacks up to the competition, if and how they reduced toxic materials, energy use or production impact. I simply don’t care about the whole ‘harder, better, faster, stronger’-optimization race you’re in. Not as long as you’re not challenging your business model. And that’s because what you do is nothing more than the result of your business model, which is nothing more than the result of why you entered the business in the first place.

Reducing unsustainability, tweaking your specs, is not going to result in sustainability. Ever.

The transition towards a sustainable society will not be driven by product innovation. Sustainable material use, living within the limits of this planet and a sustainable economic system tout court can only be reached through system and business model innovation. It’s your system that defines your product and the impact of that product. Our ever ongoing quest for product optimization is not only not helping sustainability, it’s harming it. In the next series of posts I’ll zoom in a bit deeper on business models and how to get going with them in the context of purpose-driven entrepreneurship.

The most important thing to keep in mind is “why”. When questioning your business model, the easiest thing to do is to start with the product or service you’re offering. Instead you should ask yourself why you’re offering what you’re offering. And once you found an answer on that question, ask why again. And again. And again. And again. The answer you’ll end up with is the raison d’être of your company, project or organization. Keep that answer for your brainstorm, discard everything else.

I wrote about this tool before in this post about root-cause analyses. When thinking about your businessmodel, look for the root of the model, change from there.


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.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Focussing on culture – Zappos case study | Keep the game, change the rules

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