Everyone these days is looking for a disruptive business model. But a business model is only one part of the equation. Equally important is the mental model behind the business model, as well as a measurement model for both.
In every aspect of business, we are operating with mental models that have grown outdated or obsolete. What holds us back isn't learning, but unlearning. When we learn, we add new skills or knowledge to what we already know. When we unlearn, we step outside the mental model in order to choose a different one.
The assumption in leadership development is that corporate universities are for internal audiences. But what if corporate universities were for customers as well as employees? There are competencies inside of companies that would be of value to those on the outside. What would happen if we turned the corporate university inside out?
In today's NY Times, Farhad Manjoo writes about the financial struggles of Uber imitators like Luxe, Instacart, DoorDash and Postmates. "The Uber Model, it Turns out, Doesn't Translate."
The article attributes many of the difficulties to the companies' business models. But the underlying problem is the mental model more than the business model.
As one venture capitalist said, "The industry went through a period where we said, "let's look at any big service industry, stick 'on-demand' on it, and we've got an Uber."
Uber has been successful not because it is "on demand" but because it leverage platform economics. As a two-sided market, Uber can harness a network effect. More drivers attract more passengers; more passengers attract more drivers.
eBay and YouTube are also platform businesses. For eBay, sellers attract buyers; buyers attract sellers. For YouTube, creators attract viewers; viewers attract creators.
The parking and food delivery services are failing because they were trying to create "on-demand" businesses instead of platform businesses. These "on-demand" businesses were built with mental models designed for incremental rather than exponential value creation. They created pipes, not platforms. By having the wrong mental model, they ended up with the wrong business model.
And remember the first principle of Shift Thinking:
Before you decide what to do,
first decide how to think.