The Business Innovation Program … from design thinking to new business models

November 19, 2015

Whilst the best ideas and innovations might seem to be the monopoly of digital start-ups, there is no reason why more established, and physical, businesses can’t be as successful. This is the premise behind a new business innovation program that I am currently facilitating for business leaders across Europe. It brings together the disciplines of design thinking and new business model to develop gamechanging strategies for more dramatic and sustainable growth. In three phases it is co-located at the Hasso-Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Madrid’s IE Business School, and Nordic Executive Academy in Kolding.

Design thinking is a funky name for a simple approach to customer-centric problem-solving that can be applied to any aspect of business, not just products. At its heart are three simple principles – human, creative and real – learning from the customer’s world (deep diving into what really motivates to people, through practical observation and individual discussions), diverging before converging (giving space to explore new ideas, suspending judgement particularly on ambiguities), and then quickly making ideas tangible (through pictures, models and prototypes, which then become the focus for iterative development).

Similarly, business model innovation is not new. Back in the 1959, Xerox created an incredibly powerful copier, but found that few companies could afford the high price of the new machine. By moving to a subscription-based model, low rental fee then pay per copy above a certain number of sheets, it became attractive, and an incredible success. Combining design thinking, with the well-known approaches of Alex Osterwalder and others, we worked through an accelerated approach to creating their futures, inspired by new insights into their existing and potential customer, and parallels in other markets.

Learning from Li & Fung’s virtual sourcing network, an online optician is now exploring how to change its industry’s supply chain. Inspired by UberEats, a food producer is exploring new trends like street food and home delivery. With a touch of Tesla’s Supercharger Network, a power company is rethinking how to roll out charging models for everyday use. Building on Cemex, a horizontal drilling company is focused on reducing flooding in areas at risk. Learning from construction firm Skanska, an ad agency is designing a new business model to share client success. Borrowing ideas from Jonny Cupcake’s t-shirt shops, an exhibition centre is rethinking its space and how to sell it, and the Nespresso business model is helping an industrial valve maker is to explore new markets.

What really matters, is how to apply all these great ideas to your own business – whilst you have the precious moments to think about it, and the expert guidance on hand. This is why through the program, we develop your own new business strategy – how to drive growth, using all the insights and techniques which we explore. The outcome is a practical, personal roadmap for the future of your own business, and how you will make it happen.


Here are some examples of the real innovations emerging from the most recent program

  • How to develop an integrated virtual supply chain for retailers across Europe
  • Developing an accelerated innovation lab for pharmaceutical companies
  • Extending a food brand into new categories of snacking, street food and fresh food
  • Changing the business model for watching sports events in South America
  • Redefining horizontal drilling as environmental protection for local communities
  • An ad agencies that embraces social trends to be a real-time marketing partner for clients
  • Providing accelerated relocation services for companies to help them grow in new markets
  • A regional newspaper reimagined as a digital news platform that inspires its community
  • New mums and babies online store telling a new story about Happy Families
  • And much more …

Here are a few images from the most recent program:


Exploring the future of your own business …


Group work exploring future trends and consumer insights across sectors


Developing customer value propositions, based around “jobs to be done”


Choosing the right business model to engage customers and drive growth


Using pyramid thinking to tell a better story, then communicate it in more human ways



The masterplan for innovating the world of eyewear is revealed


Learning from each other, inspired to create a better future …

Nexamy ELP Team

Explore more about the Business Innovation Program organised by GeniusWorks and available as open programs customised to your business, and also with IE Business School and Nordic Executive Academy

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