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Defining the Right Problem: A Critical First Step in the BMI Process

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Radboud University Nijmegen
February 8, 2023
10:30 to 12:15
Radboud University Nijmegen

The Business Model Innovation process starts when organizational decision-makers identify a problem that should be solved or a valuable opportunity that could be seized. Defining the right problem or opportunity, however, is not always straightforward. In this lecture, you will learn how to specify a problem or opportunity in such a way that it can serve as the starting point of the Business Model Innovation Processes.

Learning Goals

After attending this lecture, you should be able to…

  • Understand the rational approach to problem specification
  • Describe the difference between systems thinking and reductionist thinking, and explain why they lead to different problem definitions
  • Distinguish between goal variables, leverage points, and other relevant elements in a business model

Required Readings

  1. Reeves, M., Levin, S., Fink, T., & Levina, A. (2020). Taming complexity. Harvard Business Review, 98(1), 112–121.
  2. Grewatsch, S., Kennedy, S., & (Tima) Bansal, P. (2021). Tackling wicked problems in strategic management with systems thinking. Strategic Organization, 147612702110386. https://doi.org/10.1177/14761270211038635
  3. Walker, W.E. (2000). Policy Analysis: A systematic approach to supporting policymaking in the public sector. Journal of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis, 9: 11-27.

Complementary Readings

  1. Wedell-Wedellsborg, T. (2017). Are you solving the right problems? Harvard Business Review, 95(1), 76–83.

The Course

This lecture is part of the Business Model Innovation course at the Radboud University Nijmegen. In an increasingly interconnected world, organizations are confronted with unprecedented levels of turbulence, uncertainty, and complexity. Global trends such as rapid urbanization, climate change, global economic power shifts, digitalization influence the effectiveness and efficiency of existing business models. To ensure future competitive success, organizations must rethink the way they create, deliver, and capture value. This course teaches students how to redesign an organization’s business model and make it future-proof.

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