At switchrs we strongly believe that context creates content. When venturing into circular economy and social impact, it makes more sense to look into new business models and strategies first and only after that invest time and energy in a new product, material or technology. First look at where you’re going and how you’re planning on getting there, only then look at your mode of transportation.
“The future of cars probably will be electric vehicles, but the future of transport might not be cars.”
When you’re looking at your company from a strategic point-of-view, it’s important that you’re able to look beyond your product or service. Beyond that thing you’re creating. In a previous blogpost we wrote a bit more in detail on the difference between single and double loop learning (you can read that here), in this blogpost we would like to dive in a bit deeper in how double loop learning works. How looking into changing user behavior, market patterns, and business models of not just your competitors, but also completely different sectors can help you in finding new opportunities for your company. At switchrs we do this through analogy thinking.
What is analogy thinking?
The basic idea of analogy thinking is simple:
- Download our template to start from (or create your own)
- Look at an interesting case
- Try to find out what it is that makes this case so inspiring
- Translate these small golden nuggets to your company
- See how it translates on both business model and product innovation level
And with that simple exercise, one that you can consciously work on by using a template like ours, or make a natural reflex whenever you stumble unto something interesting, you can start in looking at opportunities and new options for your business.
⚠️ A small warning has to come with this exercise: Once you figure out how to spot patterns and opportunities, it is very hard not to spot them. The hard work is still translating these opportunities into reality. Don’t jump on every single thing that pops-up. Choose where you’ll dedicate your energy to wisely.
Flip flop inc.
In our workshops about circular business models, we often use Flip Flop inc. as our generic case. Because flip flops make up a big portion of ocean litter, but also because the product’s pretty straight forward and the usual business model is very traditional (produce and then sell with revenue at a retailer).
On our cases page you can find regularly updated cases on both circular economy and social innovation. If we would like to upgrade our tradition Flip Flop inc. into a hero-case for the circular economy, we would start by looking at people who came before us.
Looking at w.r.yuma for example, we could choose to make our flip flops part of the solution rather than the problem by cleaning up the beaches and turning old flip flops into new ones. If we add the framework of UpChoose to that, we could bring it into a servicized model and give you a discount fee if you bring back your used flip flops. We could even take it further and have people clean beaches for us, let them send the old flip flops to us, and give them an additional discount based on the weight. After a while we decide that we’re going to use the recycled materials for other beach ware (stuff you don’t forget when you go home), and decide to look at cases like Ecovative to develop a bio-based material that, when lost in sea, turns into nutrient, supporting instead of damaging the underwater eco-system.
Of course turning these opportunities into reality still isn’t easy (if it was, someone else would’ve done it before you). But it’s a good start to clear your head from what is and start to look at what could be. Because in the end, the only difference between those two states is the time and energy you’ve invested in them.
So there you go! A simple and small exercise you can use either at strategic meetings or group-workshops. Let us know what you’ll use it for, and don’t hesitate to reach out with your own hero-cases, tools and remarks!