Friction: Opportunities in adversity

Business Model Design
Designing business models

Recently, Stuart L. Hart of Cornell University gave a talk as part of Rotman’s Wicked Problem series. Hart gained notoriety for his robust discussions on the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) originally made popular with author and professor C.K. Prahalad. BoP thinking explores models of sustainable business that serve non-tradition market segments – namely those overlooked by capitalists of past generations. In Hart’s latest thinking about Capitalism at the Crossroads the story has not changed much, but his call to develop new business models that profitably engage the under-served is still relevant today. However, are developing economies the only fertile ground for this line of thinking?

As we think about Ontario and its long term growth, individuals often wrestle with “who” is responsible for what to ensure their region prospers. Surely government is responsible for some aspects and business some others, but what about the role of the individual? Regional economic development is a tricky thing, and most individuals do not know how their actions can contribute to a region’s prosperity instead deferring to larger institutions for guidance. The savvy entrepreneur, however, recognizes that it’s their initiative intertwined with the other structures that facilitate new businesses. They recognize that times of change the friction can reveal opportunity.

At the Martin Prosperity Institute, we have a keen interest in understanding the factors that contribute to sub-national prosperity and the associated economic development. In our most recent major project, we took a very close look at Ontario’s economic productivity and the workforce to support it and we came up with some very interesting findings for its future.

One aspect that needs to be underscored, however, is the need to be creative. The entrepreneur must interpret this literally to build something new. In order to keep a constructive dialog moving with Ontarians we have been releasing working papers on specific opportunities for our province during this shift to a more creative age. Buried within them the keen eye will see opportunities to build new businesses.

What do you see?