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
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