Imagine you are a furniture retailer and your suppliers refuse to supply you anymore.  You are a store with no stock.  What do you do?  Do you give in, shut up shop and go do something else, or do you re-think your business?

This is what happened to Ingvar Kamprad the founder of IKEA when in 1956 suppliers boycotted his business under pressure from competitors.  Rather than shut up shop Kamprad decided to design and sell his own furniture.  Crisis averted and the first step in the creation of a business model that make IKEA a success and Kamprad one of the richest people in the world.

If you are trying to find new opportunities and challenge your business model why not create a crisis and see where the thinking goes?  We call this technique minus 1 and it involves a few simple steps, a little creativity and a whole lot of fun.

  1. Gather a group of about 8 people from various parts of your organisation (all whom are prepared to think a little differently)
  2. Create a list of the essential things that you could not manage your business without, for Kamprad it was stock, what will it be for you?  Customers, staff, technology, money, location….
  3. Select one essential thing; pretend you no longer have access to it and get a little creative.  The challenge – what could our business be if there we had no location? Spend 20 minutes brainstorming and see what you come up with.
  4. Now give yourself back the item you took away and see if the ideas you came up with have got any merit.
  5. Select another essential thing and follow step 3 and so on.

When you practice the minus 1 activity you may come up with some ideas that are standard, some that are ridiculous and some that just might work.

As with all creative thinking, stick with it long enough and there’s no telling what ideas you could have.

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Written by Lisa Smith

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Lisa is a professional thinker dedicated to helping people unlock their innate creativity and to empower them to think differently – for themselves. She is passionate about building innovative cultures and about harnessing and engaging talent to create thinking communities. Lisa holds an MBA, specialising in organisational change and innovation, which forms the nucleus of her work. She relishes opportunities to share the Minds at Work thinking strategies with government bodies, socially responsible corporate, educators, community groups and farmers, helping them to turn their big ideas into realities.