Book Review – Seizing the White Space by Mark Johnson

Not much gets written about business models. I don’t know if it isn’t sexy enough or it somehow gets bucketed into the sleepfest of most strategy books. The only book I can think of, in recent years, to broach the subject was the self-published Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.

Seizing the White Space: Business Model Innovation For Growth and Renewal is a fine exception. Author Mark Johnson co-founded Innosight with author and HBR professor Clay Christensen, and while Christensen has been publishing niche extensions on disrupting education and health care, this book is a wonderful addition to the broader ideas of Innovator’s Dilemma and Innovator’s Solution. Both of the latter books were incredibly important in explaining how companies lose edge in the marketplace and are often blindsided by innovation, but there were some barriers to understanding exactly how to apply the concepts. Johnson does a great job of taking that next step in Seizing The White Space.

The book is squarely focused on showing companies how to build new businesses in area that are outside their current business models. This could be through replacing an existing business, building new models where there are barriers to consumption, or by filling gaps in the market. The final section delivers roadmap on how to go about the redesign and implementation of your new business model. Cases include Tata Motors and Hindustan Levr (India), Xiameter that grew out of Dow Corning, and Better Place, the Israeli start-up trying to change the automotive business model with electric cars.

Seizing The White Space is surprisingly short at 150 pages which makes the book very accessible. The language and concepts also match that accessibility. The book is worth a quick look, a reminder of the unconscious parts of strategy that you too often take for granted.

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