As part of our Monday Sustainable Business Models class, we participated in a workshop that saw us attempt to innovate the way that Walmart operates in the department of sustainability. The objective of the workshop was to help prepare Walmart for the future by transforming its business model so they could meet their 2025 goals of beginning, “a new era of trust and transparency”. In the world of business, “sustainability” is often a narrowly understood concept and its applications largely underutilised. Very few companies realize that sustainability, by nature, is a core driver of growth, value creation and innovation.
The class was divided into 3 groups of 5 students each, with each group being led by a team facilitator. The workshop was divided into 5 time bound segments:
- A brief Introduction to the BIK toolkit and the agenda
- Mapping a shared understanding of Walmart’s current business model
- A brainwriting exercise to arrive at various angles to optimize Walmart for sustainability, aided by the sustainability driver cards as well as the business model archetypes and the sustainable analysis value tool
- A refinement exercise to arrive at 2 different promising business models.
- Selecting one model and presenting the idea to the class.
Group presentations were then followed by challenges by the other groups.
The workshop was a very eye opening way to explore as many ways as possible that Walmart could innovate its business model. The tools provided meant that we were able to approach the task from many different angles. In Holly’s group, the team decided that an Employee Value Network would be an efficient way to ensure longer staying workers as well as training and opportunities for people seeking their first job. Ana’s team focused on building sustainability through education so that employees could lead more sustainable lives as well as use this knowledge in store, while John’s team thought of using Walmart’s large scale and network to create an sharing model. Almost all groups had an element of employee welfare as we learned that Walmart has had problems with this in the past.
Whilst the workshop was an amazing way to get ideas flowing, the process needs simplifying. There were three different sets of tools and it was a difficult to use them all whilst really delving into an idea. The complexity and explaining of the process often took time out of our working time and we spent a lot of time figuring out what to do. Maybe in the future, just one of the tools would be more efficient. The tools were very useful though and something we think the class will use in the future to innovate their own or another’s business model.