The Business Lifecycle Exercise

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All business models usually go through a number of lifecycle stages. Use this exercise to determine where a business model sits among the 10 Stages of the Business Lifecycle.

Duration: 20 minutes
Group size: 2 to 8 people
Requirements: Business Lifecycle cards, Business Lifecycle questions
Presence: collocated or online

Important! This exercise is about one product, service or business model, and the people that make it. The questions are not about an entire company because a company can have multiple products, services, and ways of making money, each in a different lifecycle stage. Answer these questions for just one business model only.

(For example, Apple’s iPhone products count as one business model. Apple TV is another business model by the same company.)

1. Get a set of Business Lifecycle cards and questions

In this exercise, each person needs a set of 10 business lifecycle cards. Each person also needs a list of useful questions to ask. You can get the cards and questions from a Shiftup workshop facilitator or you can download them.

In the case of an online workshop, it is useful to have the cards and questions already printed before you start. (There is no need to cut the cards. In the game, you can use a pen or sticky notes instead.)

2. Pick a volunteer and a business model

Pick any volunteer from the group who will start. This volunteer picks a business model that he or she is involved in. This can be a product or a service at any stage of its lifecycle.

Do NOT say yet in which lifecycle stage the business model is!

It is important that it is one business model (with a specific value proposition, revenue stream, and so on).

3. Think of the lifecycle stage

Instruction for the volunteer: Think of the lifecycle stage that your selected business model is in.

Don’t tell anyone the number that you picked!

The volunteer picks the corresponding card and places that card upside down on the table. (In an online workshop, they can mark the chosen number with a pen or a sticky note.)

4. Answer jury questions

The volunteer now answers questions from the other group members (who act as the jury) about the selected business model. It is the goal of the jury to determine the lifecycle stage of the business model. The jury can ask questions for about two minutes. The jury can use the sheet of questions for inspiration. Don’t ask all the questions on the paper! Just pick a few.

5. Pick the lifecycle stage

Each group member (the jury) picks a stage that they think the business model is in. They may briefly discuss with each other but they don’t have to agree. Each jury member picks a lifecycle stage from their set of 10 cards. (In an online workshop, they can mark the chosen number with a pen or a sticky note.)

At the count of three, they all show their selection at the same time.

6. Score (or not)

Calculate the average score of the jury. The entire group wins a point when the volunteer picked a number that is the same as that of the jury, rounded down.

For example, if the volunteer picked 3 and the jury’s average is 3.6 then the entire group scored a point. If the volunteer picked 4 and the jury’s average is 3.6 then the group scored no point.

(Why? Because investors, managers, and gatekeepers decide whether a business model deserves to move on to the next stage. This is not for the product team itself to decide.)

By reading this article, you made progress toward your Agility & Innovation Qualification. Report your results here and collect your experience points!

This exercise is part of the Shiftup Business Agility & Innovation Leader workshop. An official workshop is a fun and easy way to earn 33% of the required experience points. Check out our calendar here.

Download the Business Lifecycle cards and questions

Do the online Business Model Maturity Test

Check out the 10 stages of the Business Lifecycle


Business Lifecycle Stages - Shiftup