BMI Lab goes West: Collaborative business model innovation in Silicon Valley

BMI Lab is fresh back from the second module of its Senior Management Experience with Covestro, a leading supplier of high-tech polymers. The three-day workshop took place in the abundant sunshine and collegial atmosphere of California's Silicon Valley. The practice-oriented trip followed up the theory-focused first module held in February at BMI Lab HQ.

"We wanted to make business model innovation tangible," says CEO Felix Hofmann of the trip, who represented BMI Lab along with Innovation Consultant Katharina Erdmann. "That's why it was important we visited both startups and major corporations -- the real drivers of digital transformation."

Visits included to leading academic think tanks such as UC Berekley's Jacobs Institute and Stanford University's as well as cutting-edge, private-sector innovators such as GE Digital and Tesla Motors. To underscore the value of BMI, group participants were instructed to get around with Uber. The ride-sharing company is a prime example of breaking an industry's dominant logic with an innovative new business model.

The packed agenda was a mix of seminars and practical group work. Authors John Danner and Mark Coopersmith led a discussion on leveraging failure. Larry Leifer, a godfather of Design Thinking, showed the group around the Meanwhile, participants broke into groups for ideation sessions using BMI Pattern Cards. Analyzing specific case studies such as Hilti or Tesla Motors, the group was able to draw up and test prototypes for new business models.

"It is amazing how essential collaboration is for successful business model innovation," says Hofmann. "In Europe, we sometimes underestimate the importance of collaboration and openness."

Every business, industry and geographic region is constrained by sets of ingrained assumptions. Rethinking those assumptions and breaking dominant logic is the purpose of an initiative like BMI Lab's Senior Management Experience. Upcoming tours are planned for Shanghai, Tel Aviv and Singapore.