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The Tower of Babel upside down

How to add coincidence when creating a business model

April 2, 2015 – by Jeroen Geelhoed &samhoud consultancy

A brilliant business model is not something you can simply pluck out of a hat. First of all, it involves a number of logical steps, such as market analysis and customer analysis. But it also always entails an element of creativity, entrepreneurship, luck and coincidence. This article introduces you to a concrete coincidence provider: the business model card game.

Logically natural
The following logical ingredients are essential to the development of a new and innovative business model:

Vision: you consider where you wish to go as a company. Which audacious goal you want to achieve. What you are good at. And which higher goal you as an organisation are aiming for.

Analysis: you consider what is happening within the market. What the trends and developments are. Which exceptional new entrants are present and the factors behind their success. You keep track of developments within society and reflect on their significance for your company.

Customer insight: you study your target group intensely, of course. You talk to the members of this group and observe them. What keeps your potential customers occupied, what they are busy doing. What makes them happy and what makes them unhappy.

Proposition: you think about what you are going to offer your customer group. Something that will make them happy. Something that responds to their needs, even if your potential customer does not yet know precisely what he or she wants. Customer insight is the key to a good proposition. Look at HomePlus in South Korea, which discovered that South-Korean consumers do not have time for grocery shopping because they have to work so hard and endure lengthy commutes. A number of metro stations therefore have billboards with pictures of shop shelves and images of products they can scan with their smartphones and order immediately. The groceries are then delivered to their door one hour later. The metro platform serves as a ‘supermarket’. Such a customer insight sounds simple, but can have far-reaching consequences.

Revenue model: during the development of a new business model you then look at how you will earn money. What about the cash flow? Who will pay for what? LinkedIn is highly creative in this respect: recruiters from major companies pay LinkedIn for all of the data we key in for free. Yes, that includes you too.

Vision, analysis, customer insight and the like: of course it is logical for you to focus on all of these. But that does not yet imply that simply working your way through such a list will automatically produce a brilliant business model. Creativity also plays a role in this. Entrepreneurship. Seemingly illogical strides and thoughts. And a slice of coincidence and luck, it goes without saying. How can you ensure coincidence plays a role in the creation of a new business model?

Adding coincidence
It often boils down to just that other thought or unexpected idea. That is why we looked for ways to introduce specific, coincidental ideas among various customers. One such way is the business model card game, with 55 ideas for creating business models. It is just as practical as it is simple. You can become bogged down from time to time while brainstorming about and fleshing out a new business model. When this happens, you can merely pull a random card from the pack. The card bears a brief description of a type of business model. An example is provided below (cards 44 and 51).


This provides another thought stimulus. A new perspective that you would not have come up with yourself, but one upon which you can continue building in pursuit of a brilliant business model.

The 55 cards did not originate by coincidence, by the way, but were the product of in-depth research[i]. Gassmann studied numerous business models and discovered 55 basic patterns of business models. That is indicative of how you can use scientific research by coincidence. It sounds unusual, but it does work.

If you are interested in the development of a brilliant business model and the business model card game, please send an e-mail to

[i]Gassmann, O. cs. ‘The St. Gallen Business Model Navigator’



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