Structure and creativity: How we gamestormed our business model together

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Wine and business models

At the close of a frantic first quarter and the verge of the roller-coaster ride Q2 will be, I’d like to tell the tale of how – months ago – we gamestormed our business model together. Business model generation is a tough job, but it can be productive fun. What we now know as Inspired by Coffee was born on a table amidst post-its, markers, coffee cups and two great books…

Nowadays it seems more important to be disruptive than to have a business model. We – old-fashionably – decided to start the other way around, with Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas. And although it’s a great tool, the book’s a bit dull to puzzle something unique together. To spice up our business model generation we mixed the canvas with another book I picked up last year: Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo.

Gamestorming techniques are games to do successful brainstorming. Rather than sitting through another “every idea is good” session gamestorming provides a facilitator with a toolbox of inspirational activities for teams.

What is great about the combination of the canvas and gamestorming, in my opinion, is that while the canvas helps you to structure all the questions that need answering to build a sustainable business, gamestorming helps you to come up with creative and uncommon answers. Structure and creativity. (Sustainability and disruption?)

For instance the game “Design the box” can be used to come up with a solid value proposition. Just think about the value you’ll be adding as cereals and build and design the container. What are the ingredients? Why is it good for you? Will it make you happy?

Or the game “Cover story” (one of my favourites, I’ve been using it in tons of workshops) which can help you to think about customer relationships. What will people say to reporters about your business and its service in five years? What kind of magazine will feature you? What will the cover image look like?

Another example: we used affinity mapping to come up with revenue streams. This is a great game that involves lots of post-its with separate ideas that are moved around until patterns start to become clear and the best ideas are distilled.

The combination of the structure of the business model canvas and the creativity of gamestorming made our business model sessions both productive and fun. Our business model is not purely disruptive, but has an edge and is solid to begin with.

It’s still a bit too early to say it’s sustainable. We’re only three months in. We’re busy though, doing the stuff we hoped to be doing, which is a good sign. And we had fun doing the tough work we started out with. So, next time you’re asked to design a business model, consider to use the canvas and gamestorming techniques!