Creating a business model is creating a myth
Creating a Business Model
A business model, like a coin, has two sides, the myth and a business-oriented structure that we call “alignment“. The following text is dedicated to the myth. The myth breathes the soul into the business model and brings it to life. Both, myth and alignment, belong together, like head and tail of the coin. If one is missing, the model is incomplete. With only one leg it always takes crutches and supports to move around.
Creating a business model is creating a myth
Myth is what we feel to be true and authentic, always, at all times. Those who live outside of myths have lost the thread to their own history and are unable to see and shape a future that is better than anything we know. And innovative stories are laid out for this purpose, they are to co-found a future that is better than the current one. A myth is a story. A successful business model is a remarkable, wonderful story.
Myth is what we feel to be true and authentic, always at all times. If we lived outside of myths, we would have lost the thread to our own narrative. We would be unable to see and shape a future that is better than anything we know. The narratives of the future are founded in myths. A successful business model is a remarkable, wonderful myth.
The ingredients of the myth
A myth consists of symbolism, narrative, motivation, ritual, and moral of the tale. If these elements are complete, the myth is justified. The symbol per se excels the myth; wether it is symbolic thinking, a figure or a gesture. No one believes that the Marlboro Man (the symbol) riding the grasslands, camping outdoors overnight, kindling a campfire (the story) and skilfully lighting his cigarette with a burning chip (the ritual) is a real, life-caught figure. But millions have followed the myth of the figure and the implizit moral of the tale, that independent men smoke Marlboro.
For the LED business model, we created the name “there be Light” to refer to the power of Genesis. At the beginning the name was a clear stoppage for everybody. Even we had to overcome our inhibitions; the name was too obviously borrowed from biblical tales. But the more the name appeared in our consciousness, the friendlier, familiar and kindred it became. there be Light stands symbolically and implicitly for the good of natural light, for the power and the health of sunlight.
there be Light stood for our thinking about the quality of light. About what influence light has on our well-being. Light emitted from diodes (LED) has a quality close to the natural light of the sun. This has an immense effect. It influences the circadian rhythm, our thinking, feeling and acting. The fact that we can have sunlight at night or in dark rooms changes our lives. We can not really estimate the impact yet. But, we estimate, that the changes will be enormous.
The narrative is the main element of the myth. It expresses our thinking and feeling. The narrative embodies the distinctive character of our initiative, even more, the thinking of ourselves as individuals and as a team. Symbolic, imaginative thinking is the driving force and source of every good story. Symbolic, imaginative thinking breathes life into the narrative, it becomes vital and true.
The motivation shall be noticeable and comprehensible. It is the driver. It creates the initiative and enforces the impact. In my time as Product Manager at Colgate Palmolive, I learned “reason why is always an action”. That’s a good rule and I followed it again and again. Do not get me wrong. I do not want to introduce a marketing thinking here. On the contrary, we should shelve our marketing thinking, stamp it, retire it to the graveyard of history. Marketing thinking ultimately undermines every narrative. It throws us back on misleading motives, rather than bringing us forward as individuals and society.
The powerful motivation to do something evolves from our own inner being. It answers the question of why. Why do we do what we do. A powerful motivation benefits all participants. It moves us, it is the reason why we engage ourselves with vigor and joy. Ultimately, it is the doing and not the motivation.
The moral of the tale
The term “moral” goes back to the Latin word “moralis”, which means “custom”. Or in other words, the moral is what we classify as ultimative correct. The moral of the tale points to a wonderful universally valid insight. It is determined by nothing except by itself. It has no desire and no aim, otherwise it would be subjective. The moral is almost what we learn from the tale.
Every narrative has a natural morality in it. A credible narrative often arises from the existential plight of the author or authors. If the statement of the narrative is in harmony with the inner motive, the need disappears. We like what we do; we do it committed, not addicted, and we do it with verve.
If we analyze the moral of fairy tales, we find that its messagings are simple but also contradictory and often one-sided. For example, social advancement is possible. If you look good. Snow White shows us that. And Cinderella. And Sleeping Beauty. They were all known to have been married to princes and did not have any more worries after that. So that would be a timeless message of the classic fairytale: The most important thing is to look good. Because the bad guys are usually ugly. And the moral of Disney’s Three Little Pigs is that carelessness is evil.
So, be careful with the moral of your narrative. Make sure that it is sustainable, that it is credible, and that it can not turn against you.
Rituals anchor a story. The knighthood with the sword on the shoulder was an act of revival. When the newly graduated academics throw their mortar boards in the air at the graduation ceremony, it is a great gesture of liberation from years of studying into another, new life situation. Rituals are the end and the beginning of a good story.
No element stands alone. The elements of the myth are interwoven. In the Swiss story of Tell’s apple shot, Tell put an arrow in his crossbow and slid a second one in his belt (the ritual, it points to a possible bad outcome). When the Gessler, after the successful shot in the apple, asked what the arrow in the belt was for, the Tell replied, “For you, if I had shot my son” (the moral is revenge).
In the examples with fairy-tale beauties, the ritual is marriage. And with the Three Little Pigs, that they are again and again caught by the Big Bad Wolf.
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