Fast Company

Finding Sense ( and Dollars) In The White Space

Spring is a time of change and transition, just right for reading a new book on innovation.  “Seizing The White Space” by Mark W. Johnson is the latest volume to come from Innosight, and seems to be right the right thing for spring reading.  It’s a highly readable and very quick to get through if your mind has already made the transition to summer; yet, it is has enough chewy content for those of us who are still want to curl up hearthside with an interesting book.

Johnson puts forth what he calls the four box business model to capture the dynamic tension between three key aspects of the value system underlying a business.  Yes, that’s right – four boxes to capture three key aspects.  These are:

Customer Value Proposition – What is it that customer derives value from when your offering is selected.  Of course, given the Christensen heritage of Innosight it comes as no surprise that Johnson returns to the job to be done jargon to talk about the value proposition.  Personally, I was just happy to see the value-prop called simply and directly what it is.  (Okay, I’m just weary of some authors who feel compelled to try and coin new jargon for what is already a well understood concept.)

Profit Formula – The strategy for monetization of the Customer Value Proposition.

Key Resources and Process – The things, people, and processes that are needed to deliver the Customer Value Proposition.  Johnson separates the concepts of resources and process in his representation.  Hence, the four boxes to represent three key aspects.

While these concepts may seem pretty basic, there are far too many companies that seem to forget that this system, and more importantly, the need to harmonize and balance these elements of the system exist.  Ignoring some of Clayton Christensen’s best advice (be patient on revenues, but impatient about profit) many companies attempting to claim a white space opportunity as their territory burn through loads of capital to try and drive the revenue engine only to dilute the share value so much that no one can hope to extract value from the venture.

Throughout “Seizing The White Space,”  Johnson uses many examples and comparisons of how these various elements interact in both successful and failed business models.  The examples help to bring to life what could otherwise be a very dry and boring domain of study.  You will need to filter some of the discussion through your analysis.  Some of the issues around the cases studies are open to interpretation.

After addressing the questions of when and how to look at business model innovation, Johnson reminds us of how existing demands and practice of a going concern can block the organizations ability to define and implement a new system to attack a white space opportunity.

I enjoyed “Seizing The White Space” and certainly recommend it as a worthwhile read for innovation practitioners or managers responsible for considering, planning for, or executing on new business platform opportunities.

This is the fifth stop on a virtual book tour for “Seizing The White Space.”  Earlier stops on the tour can be visited at:

Working Knowledge – Andrea Meyer’s excellent blog

Blogging Innovation – A multi-author innovation blog maintained by Braden Kelley

Innovate on Purpose – Jeffrey Phillips thoughtful blog on innovation strategy and practice

FastForward Blog – An Enterprise 2.0 blog where Jim McGee review the book 
 
Yet to come on the virtual book tour is Dan Keldsen’s interview with Mark Johnson which will appear on the  Information Architected blog.

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