4 Business model lessons from Istanbul Innovates

Board of Innovation

Yesterday, 30 ambitious innovators from Turkcell, Bosch Siemens, and Pfizer, embarked with me on a workshop on business model innovation. I learned that there has never been an audience more into Klout; that Turkcell is not only the no. 3 operator in Europe but has a lot of innovation going on in their startup ecosystem; and that Istanbul is an amazing city (but the latter is no surprise!). Let’s see what else we’ve learned about Innovation…

Lesson 1: Always start with the mindset!

There’s no point in starting with business modelling, if people haven’t changed their mindset. A lot of organizations are still very much focused on innovating their product, with the business model being largely unchanged over the last 20-40 years. Don’t end up in a TomTom situation where you kept improving your product, but all of a sudden your product has become obsolete. Start with listing all the assumptions you have about your current business model, and then challenge each one of them.

Lesson 2: Copy/paste from successful business models.

80% of our creative ideas comes from analogy thinking. That’s why it is important to look outside of your industry boundaries, and learn from new business concepts. We looked for example at how Aux Raus has transferred the McDonalds franchise model into the music industry (an old business model in a new context), and how you could copy the mobile phone model to electric cars.

Lesson 3: Innovation projects should be fun and serious at the same time.

If you’re innovation process looks like Gantt charts, idea boxes, and dull meetings, it’s time to shake things up! We spoke about motivating a team when entering a business model innovation project, and using the metaphor of making a movie together. You can read more about it in the top presentation about our innovation process.

Lesson 4: Experiment with business models!

On the Creativity World Forum, Jamie Anderson gave an energetic speech about the pace of new developments in the music sector. Where Madonna changed here looks once every 2 years (the lifecycle of new albums), new star Lady Gaga changes her looks every 2 months (the lifecycle of digital songs). This change in pace is taking place in every sector. That’s why you shouldn’t get stuck in a 2y cycle of traditional business planning, but experiment with a portfolio of business model prototypes. I was impressed by the ecosystem Turkcell has set up with all-kinds of startups in related fields, from mobile gaming to mobile payments, with different business models. That’s the way to go!

I certainly have to thank WeDecide (the new kid in town of innovation management platforms) and Özyeğin Üniversity (Istanbul’s leading university on innovation & entrepreneurship) for hosting us. Btw, on Saturday I met with Erhan Sabay, our new ambassador in Turkey. Keep an eye on him via this blog, as he’ll keep us updated on the latest innovations popping up over there.

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