I was in a hotel meeting room in Madison, Wis. I had taken all the classroom tables and chairs out, scoured the hotel for every lounge-type chair and couch, and set the room for a three-day business model workshop.

As the business unit general manager walked in she paused … turned her head from left to right, and said, “Well this is different.”

And then, at 7:58 a.m., sharp, she kicked off the workshop before turning the three days over to me.

She asked her leadership team, “Why are we here?” She then listed the significant challenges the business faced:

  • Our products have been commoditized.   
  • The relationships we relied on are no longer creating the loyalty we once enjoyed.
  • The services we offer can be found in our competitor’s offerings.
  • New and non-traditional competition has entered the market.

Her conclusion: There was a need to develop a new model — a new way of creating value. She said we must innovate our way out of this. And then she looked at her team. She paused for affect and said, “If not us, who?”

Go on, list the challenges your business faces on a white board. And on another list the opportunities in front of you (there are many!). Then lead a discussion with your leadership team. Let them know that there are solutions to overcome the challenges and to seize the opportunities. And ask them if we don’t figure this out, if we don’t lead the innovation process, if we don’t think different... If not us, who?