Lets Play Cards: Patterns Of Business Model Innovation

Posted by Michael Lindberg on Sep 11, 2017 2:38:51 PM

business model innovation

Patterns Of Business Model Innovation

“Alea iacta est!”

- Julius Caeser


If you learned Latin when you were young you may recall that these were the words spoken by Julius Caesar as he led his army across the Rubicon river in Northern Italy and thus beginning his long civil war against Pompey and the Optimates.


The words mean “The dice have been cast!” and by this Caesar meant to say that with crossing Rubicon he had passed a point of no return. It’s interesting that he cast dice when today I urge you to play cards – before you pass your point of no return. I do so because Oliver Gassmann who is professor of Technology and Innovation Management at the University of St. Gallen has come up with a fantastic tool to help to challenge current and develop new business models – using 55 cards.

Disruptive Innovation

Gassmann strongly believes that looking ahead, future competition will be between entire business models as opposed to merely between products. He has a point because already back in 2008 Boston Consulting Group together with “BusinessWeek” published research that showed that those companies that innovate their business model outperform those that “only” innovate their products and/or processes.


This is, in some ways, what Clayton Christensen talks about too. Christensen’s theory, ”disruptive innovation”, describes how incumbent companies often make minor product and process improvements whereas in order for the new entrants to survive in a market, they have to disrupt the way the market works. One way of achieving this is from an innovative business model as it forces a company to look at the market and the current offerings in a significantly different way.

55 Unique Patterns

Gassmann can help us to think out of the box. His team has analyzed 250 successful business models that have been applied in different industries within the last 25 years. This resulted in the identification of 55 unique patterns which individually or combined account for no less than 90% of the existing business models.


That’s amazing, but what’s even more amazing is that Gassmann and his team have turned their groundbreaking research into a tool: 55 cards that each contains a business model pattern complete with a brief description and interesting examples of companies that have applied the specific pattern. That’s a great starting point for a structured yet creative way of coming up with a new business model so - “let’s play cards”! 



For further insight into innovative business models and how they can be used to achieve growth for your organization why not download our free new whitepaper? Entitled 'Reaching higher than the Alps', the whitepaper takes an in-depth look at how to create growth through a structured process of challenging and innovating your business model, and it's packed with good advice and practical tools based on some of the smartest people in the world within the field of strategy and business development. 


Topics: Change