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Apr 20, 2008
"Change the environment; do not try to change man."
-R. Buckminster Fuller

In this article, I introduce you to a new life-change question and answer that question.

The question was originally posed to me by Mr. Robert R. McEwen, then CEO of Goldcorp, a gold-mining company based in Toronto. Sitting in the back seat of my rental car, he leaned forward to speak to me and asked a question I had never heard before:

"Do you think a CEO would be better off working on improving the company's business model or the efficiency of the way the company operates now?"

After I responded that the most successful companies I had studied were constantly improving their business models, Mr. McEwen said that he agreed. He had decided to focus his company in that way.

Just the week before, he had launched an experiment - The Goldcorp Challenge - to find more gold in the company's main mine. This online contest for geologists would cost several hundred thousand dollars, taken from the company's exploratory drilling budget. He felt he had little to lose and possibly something to gain. If this experiment didn't work, he would try some other way to find gold less expensively.

The experiment paid off beyond his wildest dreams. Within two years, his company found more gold in that mine than it had in the prior fifty, and greatly reduced the cost and effort involved. Because of this success, fewer miners will risk accidents there to find gold, while being assured of much more work extracting ore. Shareholders and suppliers will do well, too.

And that's just the beginning of what Goldcorp can accomplish with its new business model of inexpensively accessing the world's best geological thinking.

Best of all, you can adapt key lessons from Goldcorp's success to help your business. Mr. McEwen's question and subsequent success in pursuing the answer helped focus my attention on the importance of sharing what I have learned about business model innovation.

Virtually unnoticed amid the virulent weeds of limitless greed, corporate charlatans, and quick fixes that do more harm than good, the sturdy seeds of a new age of greater and more responsible prosperity are beginning to sprout. Since 1989, company after company has demonstrated the remarkable ways to provide lasting satisfaction and produce wealth by doing as much good for as many people as possible.

The values of curiosity, caring, and generosity in sharing benefits have greatly facilitated these pursuits. Aided by these values, more and more companies have reinvented their firms every two to four years to improve the benefits received by customers and end users.

To succeed, these companies had to learn to focus on business model innovation, inspire and run numerous small-scale experiments, and keep overall risk under control as they continually learned how to create large competitive advantages.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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