SunEdison innovative business model (which is one of the great case studies in the realm of business models available at did not helped the company from bankruptcy:

Where does the shortage come from?! We assume that a superior business model will be the core of building a superior business. Please support me on the analysis as I do not want to loose my religion on business models...

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The view that simply defining a great business model will ensure success is misunderstanding of the purpose and power of business design, which includes business models.

There are no guarantees, no 'approved solution', no formula one can follow to guarantee success in business. Business, like many human endeavours, is a complex adaptive environment meaning there are so many factors constantly changing it is not possible to create a standard formula on which one can execute. If anyone ever tells you they have cracked the formula for success in business, run far and run fast as this person is just trying to sell you something.

The best business design can be undone by a shift in the environment that may be unpredicted or missed, or the failure of the business to execute properly on one or more aspects of the model.

What we can say is if you think adaptively, use frameworks for thinking that allow you to shift and adjust your approach, and think about design through to execution you may greatly increase your chances of success.

I have not done an in depth analysis off the fall of SunEdison, but the reading I have done so far clearly places the driver of collapse, not on the business model itself, but of an aggressive campaign of acquisition, over extension of resources and tension between shareholders and leadership on the direction of the company. The company entered into $4B+ USD acquisitions where investors did not agree. 

What killed SunEdison was not a failure of business design as a failure of execution of that business design.

Mike, Great point mentioned by you also reminds me an excerpt of Jim Muehlhausen "Business Models for Dummies" book:

In order to keep your business model working at its best, you need to innovate, adapt, and be flexible. Building a business isn’t like building a house. When you build a house, you get to cut the ribbon on the front porch when you’re done. Building a business model is more like building a sandcastle. You finish and then the tide comes in and knocks some or all of it down. The issue is how fast the tide comes in — not whether it comes in.

It seems that as a lesson learned from SunEdison case is that over emphasizing on a great business model during execution phase and not seeing what comes through and justifying every decision just be referring the model, will welcome the failure.


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