9 areas of your business that could use creativity - Part 2

Businesses are innovating at a rapid pace. What is your business doing to keep up? Don't get left behind.

Ask yourself: Where could I use more creativity in my business?

The Business Model Canvas designed by Alexander Osterwalder is a helpful tool for getting a bird’s eye view of your business. At Creativity Wake-Up, we find this a useful model to share with our clients to spark ideas for applying creative thinking.

In my last blog, we looked at four of the nine blocks in the Business Model Canvas where you could begin to apply creativity.  Let’s take a look at the rest of the blocks.



5.     Channels

Channels are ways that you communicate with and distribute your value to your customers. Channels serve various functions including raising awareness about your products or services, allowing your customers to evaluate your offerings, enabling them to purchase physically or virtually, delivering the value and providing post-purchase customer support.  

Get creative and ask:

  • Through which channels do each of our customer segments prefer being reached?
  • Which of our channels work best?
  • Which channels are the most cost efficient?
  • How might we build more awareness of our products and services?
  • How might we deliver our products and services to our customers in a better way?

Disruptive advertising grows market share for Volvo

Every year, millions of people watch the US Superbowl, driving advertisers to spend $5 million per 30 second spot on TV advertisements during the game. In 2015, Swedish car manufacturer Volvo hijacked TV advertising by launching a competition to win a car. Volvo invited people to tweet them with the hashtag #VolvoContest and the name of a loved one, whenever they saw a commercial for another car company during the Superbowl game. They stood the chance to win a Volvo XC60 for their loved one.

The campaign, dubbed ‘The Greatest Interception Ever,’ managed to shift attention away from TV ads paid for by other car companies to a social conversation about Volvo. Volvo sustained engagement throughout the game and saw an increase in sales of the XC60 model of 70% in the month after the SuperBowl.

How can you change the conversation about your products or services? What could you do to engage your audience in an original way? Is there an emotional connection that would gain traction with your followers that you could make using your current marketing channels or ones that you have not tried before?

6.     Key Activities

This is what you do every day to deliver value for your customers. Your Key Activities involves the use of time, expertise, and resources to produce goods or deliver services.

Get creative and ask:

  • Are there activities that we could cut out?
  • Are there activities we could merge?
  • What activities do we need to excel at?
  • Are there additional activities that would supplement what we do?


A new key activity reaps rewards for Chewy

AP Photo/LM Otero

Pet services company, Chewy, founded by Ryan Cohen and Michael Day, got creative with their key activities. In addition to providing pet food, accessories, and toys, they found a way to deliver even more value to their customers.

Chewy sends condolence messages and bereavement packages for those whose pets have died. They also send more than 1,000 free oil paintings to select customers every week: the work of 200 fulltime portrait artists.

The portraits are a hit on social media, where people share images of their art with all their followers and play a role in advertising the company. The startup was sold for $3.35 billion to pet industry giant PetSmart in 2017.


7.     Key Resources

You need Key Resources to perform your Key Activities. These resources are what you need in a practical way to deliver value to your customers. These could include computers, internet connectivity, electricity, office space, hosting services, staff, vehicles and raw materials.

Get creative and find out:

  • Could we rent rather than own resources?
  • How might we share resources with a partner?
  • Do we have any by-products that could become resources?


Bird Scooters crowd sources key resources


Bird is an innovative electric scooter-sharing company. Bird provides access to shared electric scooters and personal electric vehicles in over one hundred locations around the world. The fleet of electric scooters and vehicles helps reduce pollution and traffic. The company's platform coordinates with cities to provide citizens with access to shared personal electric vehicles that can be picked up and dropped off anywhere, enabling users to receive sustainable and environment-friendly local transport.

Rather than investing in expensive charging stations, Bird adopted a resource-light business model by crowdsourcing scooter charging to its users. Birds scooters need to be collected and recharged every night. Bird pays from $5 to $20 per scooter per charge, depending on how difficult it is to locate the scooter and how much charging it needs. In every Bird city, a huge number of freelance subcontractors are enlisted to collect e-scooters at night and return them to their designated ‘nests’ at 4am in the morning.

Bird founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden sees this outsourcing of their key resources as an opportunity to create an "empowered community." He says, "I think, if you talk to most chargers, they're excited to do it. They like the money piece, but for them it's like a game of Pokémon Go." According to Inc. journalist, Will Yacowicz, who spent time studying this community, many of the chargers are struggling to make ends meet and this opportunity from Bird is a life line for them.


8.     Key Partners

These are the partners that you cannot run your business without. They are the relationships that you have with other businesses, government or entities that help your business model to work.  The types of partnerships could be strategic alliances, joint ventures, buyer-supplier relationships or co-opetition (a strategic partnership between competitors.)

Get creative and think about:

  • Who are our key partners?
  • Which partnerships are critical to our business?
  • Which of our suppliers and partners are sourcing our key resources?
  • What partnerships can we remove/ enlarge/ change/ reduce?


Local Motors uses key partners to decentralise production


Local Motors is a car company that leverages the power of key partnerships to co-create cars. Their cars are designed by a community of designers and engineers. They then manufacture vehicles by printing them using direct digital manufacturing in micro-factories.

The company has launched the Rally Fighter, the world’s first co-created vehicle; the Strati, the first 3D-printed car, and most recently Olli, the first cognitive, autonomous vehicle. 

According to Board of Innovation: “Local Motors’ extensive community of engineers, designers, and tinkerers enables the company to tackle some of its toughest problems by harnessing the power of crowdsourcing. The company also relies on a network of small, local manufacturers and 3D printing to decentralise its production structure.” 

Local Motors “outsources” its research and development by working with the community. In this way, the company significantly cuts costs in comparison to traditional automobile manufacturers. In addition, Local Motors is not burdened with the fixed costs of typical large manufacturing plants.


9.     Costs

Your cost structure is defined as the monetary cost of operating your business.

Get creative and explore:

  • Are there costs to my key resources or key partnerships that we could save on?
  • What is the opportunity cost of running this business?
  • What industry standard cost centres can we remove/ enlarge/ change or reduce?


Orange County municipal workers use creativity to reduce expenditure by $3.5 million


There is a fascinating study by Robert Epstein, Steven M. Schmidt, and Regina Warfel from the University of California, San Diego, into the power of creativity for cost reduction. 173 city employees in Orange County, California, were sent on creativity training in an attempt to involve more staff in finding solutions to city problems. Employees from every city department participated including Parks and  Recreation, Police, Human Resources and Sanitation, etc.

The municipal workers were trained in Four Core Competencies of Creative Expression:

  1. Capturing – Preserving new ideas as they occur, finding places and times where new ideas can be observed easily and using dreams and daydreams as sources of ideas.
  2. Challenging – Taking on difficult tasks, setting open-ended goals, managing fear and stress associated with failure effectively.
  3. Broadening – Seeking training, experience, and knowledge outside current areas of expertise
  4. Surrounding – Changing physical and social environments regularly, seeking out unusual stimuli or combinations of stimuli.

Eight months later, the city officials reported nearly $600,000 in new revenue and $3.5 million in innovative expenditure reductions. Rather than have managers in offices working on cost and expenditure reductions, the municipal workers themselves used their creativity to look out for and find opportunities for cost reduction in their everyday work. They applied a fresh creative mindset to get curious about how things were working on the ground and to ask questions about processes, systems and norms, such as: Is there a better way? How might we save money here? Do we need to be making this expenditure?

City officials attributed that financial gain to new ideas generated by employees after their creative training. Not only were municipal workers learning how to think creatively, but the training helped to change the whole culture of the organisation, making everyone more open to new ideas.







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