Research in Motion, the maker of Blackberry, must reinvent its business model.  Otherwise, it’s the end of the road as many market analysts are predicting.  Time is of the essence, so the management team needs to accelerate its search for new directions and pursue them aggressively.  Here is a series of steps and techniques to do that.

1.  Reframing:  Use the Subtraction Tool to reframe and see new possibilities.  Make a list of the major components of the company (sales force, products, brand, employees, customers, network, etc.).  Now imagine that the company will merge with another company from any industry.  Create a phrase something like this: “RIM has no products, but it has all the other components.  What company has the ideal set of products that would best fit the remaining resources of RIM?”   For example, would a company in data-mining or other information-based services have products that would find new growth within the RIM enterprise? Companies like LexisNexis, Authernative, and Lifelock come to mind.  Continue searching for more insights by doing the same exercise for each component.

2.  Reverse Assumption:  Assumptions get outdated, and this technique helps “break fixedness” about them.  List all the obvious business assumptions about RIM and its industry.  For example:

  • Blackberry is for enterprises
  • Consumers want more functionality
  • Cellphones are the dominate form of communication

Reverse the assumptions one by one.  “Consumers want less functionality.”  Perhaps the new business model is to create stripped down products used by a different market segment.  Perhaps Blackberry becomes a system strictly for young people, not enterprises.  Cellphones are replaced by Internet technologies.  Imagine if RIM developed a Blackberry approach to Skype.

3.  UDP Chain:  The UDP (Un-Desired Phenomena) technique shows what parts of the model are broken and why.  First, make a list of the main issues  in the problematic business model.  These are factors that create problems, transfer them, or are their “victims.”  Develop a chain that sequences these factors together.  Build the chain up by asking “so what.”  What does this factor cause to happen?  Build the chain down by asking “why.”  What causes or gives rise to this factor?  Once the chain is built, consider different options for breaking the chain.  What factors are in RIM’s control versus out of RIM’s control?  Each break in each of the UDP chains begins to suggest a new business model that may improve RIM’s situation.

4.  Innovate in Adjacent Markets:  Use The Big Picture framework and its four quadrants to see stretch opportunities beyond RIM’s current business model.  Ask these questions:

  •  Quadrant 1:  What substitute products are non-category consumers using to fulfill the need? Where are they buying it?  What complementary products go along with these substitutes?
  •  Quadrant 2:  What other products do loyal RIM customers buy, perhaps at the same price point or to fulfill the same or similar brand promise?
  •  Quadrant 3:  Why do multi-brand customers use several brands?  Is it time-dependent?  Situation-dependent?  Why does it vary?  What other products are used when the competitive brands are consumed?
  •  Quadrant 4:  What other category of products do RIM’s competitor sell?  How do those fit into their product line?  How could they fit into yours?