#IPMACE2016 – Business Models leading us to 2029

Posted: November 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

The Institute of People Management South Africa Annual Convention 14 November 2016 – blog transcript of keynote speech by Perry Timms – People and Transformational HR Ltd

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We live in a world where we sense, feel and see changes around us at every turn.  Many of the changes we’re facing simply haven’t happened to us ever before.  Many are newer macro and micro level changes we’ve seen before but in different ways.  Industrialisation saw us move from rural, craft and agricultural ways of living to urban, mechanised and production line work in factories.  Many of the industrial age legacies are still with but many more face their biggest disruption in decades if not in centuries.

If we look at the World Economic Forum’s case for this being called a Fourth Industrial Revolution we can see what we are really in the midst of:

“The First Industrial Revolution used steam power to mechanise production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres” – Professor Klaus Schwab

Physical, digital and biological aren’t things we’ve seen before and the advances in technology present us with both a gift of an opportunity in automation like we’ve never seen before; widespread connectivity we’ve been grappling with for the last decade or more; and social opportunities we simply cannot ignore.

But let’s zoom in a little more from societal, humanitarian and planetary issues and instead focus on the business world and those of the models of business.

I’ll begin with something which is now used by MILLIONS of business professionals: The Business Model Canvas.

Right away, if your business has NEVER modelled itself like this, you have your first takeaway.  So first let’s look at what the Business Model Canvas is.

After extensive research 9 key elements were defined as critical to the component parts of some of the most varied, successful and sustainable models for business covering everyone from Amazon to small start-ups.

Founders and creators Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur took all the insight from various models and found the similarities resulting in the model you can find and use for free at

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It’s these component parts that – when mapped and then subject to more detailed scrutiny, help you make adjustments in the work you do to lead, service and apply efforts to particular aspects of your business.

Yet this talk isn’t about the business model canvas per se, this is more about the business models of the future – as we are seeing them develop – and is of course a glimpse into the future.

The concept of some of the most progressive and awe-inspiring business models comes from some recent work of Singularity University member Salim Ismail in his book Exponential Organisations.

Not just espousing the models of the usual suspects of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Uber, Air BnB and Spotify, instead Ismail looks into some of those challenging the orthodox thinking in business.  So let’s look into these but first let’s look at some fundamentals of the challenger organisations and their business models.

This quick from / to gives use something to focus on


I’ll cover some of these in some of my examples to you now.

I want you to focus though, on 2029.  The year when apparently we will see computation by digital technology surpass our own; when we will see a coming together of humanity, biology and technology in what Google engineer and technology leader Ray Kurzweil calls the Singularity.  We are nearer the Singularity than the dawn of a new Millennium.  And if you know anything about Moore’s Law (the speed at which micro-processor power and size reduction doubles every 2 years) and the Law of Accelerating Returns explained as this:

“30 steps linearly gets you to 30. One, two, three, four, step 30 you’re at 30. With exponential growth, it’s one, two, four, eight. Step 30, you’re at a billion.”

SO it’s that Exponential world we’re in now.  And that’s why the poster children of Air BnB and Uber have taken off – they don’t follow linear rules. They exponential traits like those listed.

Let’s take a look at 2 dimensions on the models and their component parts and how these are illustrated in the following case studies.

We start with the first tenet of the new business models: a massive transformative purpose.

All businesses have one, not many are articulated, believed in and leveraged.

A highly aspirational tagline – something that’s inspiration and not predictable like company values.  Something to form a non-political, outward focus that turns a company into a learning environment.

So we MUST start with something that calls to a better way, a more powerful and yes more profitable (or profligate) way to live, work and learn.

For you to experience this, I’d like you to turn to someone sat next to you (if you work together that’s OK) and try and describe your company purpose.  If you need to Google search your company’s purpose that’s OK – this is normal.

THEN take a look at how it feels massive and transformative and see if you can shift it to being more inspirational.

If you remember from last year’s keynote I talked to you about the 7Ds of the Future of Work:

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Singularity’s research into the world of technology is similar


If we look at GPS development as an example: it used to cost $15000 for a GPS system in the 1990s to a chip in your phone this year that costs less than $1.  So eventually things are becoming so cheap they’re virtually free or they become free.   Yet for years, it looked like digitisation was good over physical and progress was slow (deceptive) to when it became more accessible (disruptive) and then become so abundant it became dematerialised and demonetised and eventually democratised.

So I think my 7Ds and the Singularity U’s 6Ds are somewhat dimensions of the same elements of the shifts in the way we live, work and learn.

Let’s look into some examples and the models they have and see how you might be able to adopt them.

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TED and TEDx – from premium events to crowd-based, “franchising” to live it’s Massive Transformative Purpose – ideas worth spreading.  TEDx has taken 18 minute talks from exclusive worldwide (TED) to local, communal events run by volunteers as enterprises to keep education around Technology; Entertainment and Design at an optimum level.

Their model is clear on their value proposition: it supports the mission; it brings people together; it gives entrepreneurs and others airtime and potential global prominence; it allows for enthusiasts to build their own events.

What’s the model for TEDx?  The value proposition is still ideas worth spreading.  The spread is built not on fixed assets such as staff or infrastructure – they use the web; free videos and a community of volunteers who run the events as if it were their own enterprise.  They use algorithms and automation to present the most popular and indexed talks for a better user experience.  They have a tight interface about brand and acceptable content which their community diligently enforcement.  They are the epitome of experimentation with fringe TEDx events; salons; and no overly restrictive covenants on the nature of speakers and content as long as they can be linked to the core purpose and TED mnemonic.

So it’s Massive Transformative Purpose is lived through its content and galvanises thousands of activists and billions of consumers.  It uses a flexible; on-demand lifestyle workers (or staff on demand if you will); it leverages assets of others; organisers arrange videographers; curate speakers; venues; organising crews; assets and materials.  It uses algorithms and social technologies to spread their words and make accessible the best, most watched content.  They post across to YouTube to capture more people and so reach a community beyond those who create the events and attend them in person.

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Coyote Logistics is a courier firm in the US that is changing the way people view package delivery.  Instead of an army of couriers and vans, Coyote uses social media and apps to locate available vehicles and drivers with packages which has shaved 9000 tons of unwanted CO2 and 5.5m empty miles as truck/vans/bikes go from delivery to depot / base.  40,000 couriers gives it amazing coverage yet only 1300 people on their books means they can flex to cope with the nature of the fluctuating work of logistics.  Their MTP is Offer the Best Logistics Experience Ever.  Their couriers aren’t odd-jobbers, they are a connected community who respond and participate in that better experience.  Their permanent workers are often younger grads looking for entrepreneurial starts to their careers and Coyote invests heavily in their development and potential forecasting.  Extensive data analytics literally drives their success with constant assessments of routes, customers and driver data.

MTP: Community & Staff On Demand; Social Tech; Algorithms; Dashboards; Interfaces; Leveraged Assets

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ING Bank Canada is perhaps the unlikeliest of the ExO’s you might come across.  Not the typical flag-waving disruptor.  Yet within the normality of a bank something magic happened.  Firstly the incoming CEO put himself up for “Re-election” after his first year of being “in office”.  He was re-elected. He also invited 10,000 customers to try out a new app that went on to become the financial product of the year in 2012.  The model was about multi-disciplinary people working across normal corporate boundaries.  So when there was a product launch, all staff willingly manned the phones; when it was reporting time, more people put themselves into that effort.  It become the ultimate in flexibility and came from people feeling part of the enterprise not allocated a job.  The bank was subsequently bought out from ING and the CEO is still at the helm but they went from an average handling of deposits worth $10,000 per employee to $40,000 per employee and instead of 250 customers per employee, they were handling 1800 per employee.  Such was customers self-help; awareness of when they needed help and that their customers became part of their community.

Their model: an MTP (Save Your Money); Community and Engagement; Interface; Experimentation; Autonomy; Social


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Vision: What you’re doing

Purpose : Why you’re doing it

Business model : what will fuel you as you’re doing it

Wow and  uniqueness : what sets you apart from others

Values: what matters to you

MTP – Providing the best customer service possible.  Interface (their hiring philosophy); Engagement (with customers and staff as unique people and a unique style/way of being)

Community – create a company based on the random way cities have a personality / way (Zappos Insiders; Coding Hackathons)

Experimentation – ways of working

Autonomy – no call centre scripts – it takes what it takes to make it the right service

Dashboards – customer satisfaction and rewards are gamified and cultural assessments

So the models of the future?

Business Model Canvas still applies

Exponential Organisational traits have a lot to offer as a spotlight on matter which could grow your company in line with some of the most “hockey stick” growth model.

Leaders are important – skills in the business models of the future could be like this:

Visionary / Dreamer tendencies – think Elon Musk at Tesla

User Experience Design – think April Underwood at Slack

Programming / Engineering – think Page/Brin at Google

Finance / Business – think Reid Hoffman at LinkedIn

Alongside disruptive innovation skills

Discovery skills – think Travis Kalanick at Uber

Delivery skills – think Cheryl Sandberg at Facebook

In closing, Howard Thurman says it so elegantly

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