Last October 2014 we had the pleasure to invite Tim Clark in Italy for a series of events. The opportunity came after the great success of the Italian translation of the book Business Model You (published by HOEPLI), of which I am the curator. The idea of translating the book into Italian was actually born during a course with him (the very same nice day I had the idea of developing the Personal Branding Canvas). I immediately contacted my (enlightened) publisher Hoepli, who showed great interest and courage, deciding everything in a few hours.
While Tim was here in Italy, we took advantage of his presence to ask him some questions and hear from his words some explanations about his model and his book, that has already helped thousands of people to reinvent their careers.
Where did the idea of your studies came from?
I was a consultant to Amazon.com starting in 1997. We built their first foreign-language Web site (Japanese). Starting in 1995 we served many other US and European clients who were seeking to enter Asian markets, particularly Japan. In some cases we even replicated their entire business models in Japanese. That’s when I became interested in the idea of international business model portability — why some business models work in foreign markets, and others don’t.
Could you explain us what Business Model You® is?
Business Model You® is a methodology for designing and managing your career based on what I call “personal business models.” A personal business model is the logic by which an individual creates and delivers something valuable to customers.
Many people are disengaged at work because they do not understand their employer’s business model, nor do they understand their own business model — let alone how the two are interrelated. Business Model You® is my attempt to help boost satisfaction at work for both individuals and enterprises.
What is the episode (or reason) that prompted you to embark on your career as a trainer out of Universities?
Pains and gains. The pain was having to do academic research, which I found unappealing. The gain was being able to help any working person, whether or not they were enrolled at my institution. It all started when I was working on Business Model Generation and suddenly realized the Canvas could be used by individuals as well as by organizations.
What are the motivations of people who follow Business Model You®?
Different people have different motivations, but I believe we fundamentally want the same thing: meaning and satisfaction in our work.
Business Model You® comes from business models for companies, but how does it apply to people? What are the main differences?
The principle of articulating and describing how value is created, and for whom, is exactly the same. Organizations often have significant resources in terms of people, money, equipment, and intellectual property. Most individuals lack such resources, so that’s a key difference.
Another key difference is that organizations use money primarily or exclusively as a measure of benefits. Individuals must examine the “soft” (intangible) benefits in a model, such as professional development, social contribution, recognition in addition to “hard” monetary benefits.
Why is it essential that people use a business model to better manage their career and work?
Today every forward-thinking professional must understand and care about the entire enterprise, not simply tasks associated with one narrow job description. So professionals must understand both their employer’s business model and their own personal business model — how they as individuals create and deliver value to the organization.
You facilitated a workshop for Manageritalia, the biggest executives association in Italy. Business Model You® seems particularly suited to managers. Is it true, and why?
Yes, for two reasons. First, managers are responsible for developing talent, and they need a tool to help employees grow careerwise while contributing effectively to organizational goals.
Second, managers must understand the organizational business model. The Business Model You® methodology teaches how to do this very effectively.
How applying Business Model You® to a manager can help the rest of the organization?
The methodology is equally useful for describing the entire organization, a division of the organization, functional unit, a smaller team, a project or service, or a project. A manager well-versed in business modeling can help solve problems or identify opportunities at any of these levels. Learning the methodology also helps managers master some of the basics of design thinking and group facilitation.
Ultimately, these are all simply tools designed to facilitate better interactions between people. It’s not the tools themselves that are valuable; it is the human interactions they enable that are valuable.
In your experience, what is the most difficult issue to solve (or that you have solved) within a company?
Discerning and identifying what customers value, in my view. This is a never-ending challenge.
In a world, especially the working one, more and more dynamic and discontinuous, does Business Model You® also focus on external changes and require us to act accordingly?
Yes, in the sense that users recognize that their personal business models will continue to evolve over a lifetime of work, both in response to market forces and in response to personal growth, age, and experience. The Personal Business Model Canvas itself does not explicitly address competition, technology changes, and so forth. Like a blueprint for a building, it describes how to construct the building rather than the “why” or strategic rationale for constructing that particular building. That work is off-Canvas, so to speak.
What is the advice you would give to people who are entering the market of work in this historical period?
Learn the process of business modeling, and diagram the business models of organizations for which you would like to work. Then use the PINT model to help you identify where work is being created in those organizations, and how you can help get that work done.
Is it useful to improve the career so to improve what you are doing, or to discover new paths and new professional/business dimensions?
The methodology can be used for both. Most users have significant work experience and are using the methodology to make career course corrections rather than to completely reinvent themselves. But our community certainly includes students, professionals who are about to retire, and other individuals looking to make very significant changes, or to completely reinvent their careers. We welcome everyone; career change is a constant throughout life. We’re never done 🙂