best practices

Value Platform Example: AirBnB

Previously I shared the Value Platform model plus the eight human-centric Archetypes -- one more more of which can serve as the differentiating central idea or organizing principle for your entire business. The archetypes should anchor on a core customer need, since customers are the ones buying your product and paying your bills, but should be relevant across stakeholder groups. 

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AirBnB provides an excellent example of a company that is built around a customer-centric idea, Belonging... which happens to be one of our 8 archetypes. 

In the AirBnB blog in 2014,  Brian Chesky wrote: 

Joe, Nate, and I did some soul-searching over the last year. We asked ourselves, “What is our mission? What is the big idea that truly defines Airbnb?” It turns out the answer was right in front of us. For so long, people thought Airbnb was about renting houses. But really, we’re about home. You see, a house is just a space, but a home is where you belong. And what makes this global community so special is that for the very first time, you can belong anywhere. That is the idea at the core of our company: belonging.

I encourage you to read the whole post, as it provides great context for how they think about the business within this customer-centric context. 

Below you'll find a draft of AirBnB's full Value Platform and operating model in grid form. It's based on secondary research currently, but we'll be validating with the company directly. 

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  • Value Platform Archetype: While Belonging is the central idea, the marketplace concept wouldn't work without delivering on certainty/trust. Freedom in its various flavors (adventure, empowerment) shows up in the internal culture as well as the actual travel experiences. These archetypes inform the rest of the platform. 
  • Purpose: Belonging is infused in AirBnB's mission statement of "helping create a world where you can belong anywhere" and it's brought to life in a marketplace-based business model which inherently brings this concept of belonging and connection to life. 
  • Who we serve and what we offer: The team at AirBnB has worked to pull the "golden thread" of belonging into the employee and partner experience. They've also prioritized the impact on the broader ecosystem, translating belonging into a CSR platform of non-discrimination. 
  • How we work: AirBnB's operating model is highly team-centric and self-organizing. They strike a good balance between top-down guidance with empowered, bottoms-up decision-making. While the structure is still functionally based, they've used the culture and processes to ensure that they all drive towards bringing the customer outcome to life. They even hired a head of Diversity & Belonging. What I didn't find, but would recommend, is having an outcome-based perception metric of "feeling a sense of belonging" -- as well as identifying drivers of that perception (similar to NPS driver analysis) -- to better guide the organization and resource allocation. 

Hopefully this example demonstrates the outside-in, customer-centric approach to business strategy that serves to break silos, unify departments towards a shared outcome, and strongly differentiates the brand. As always, questions/comments welcome. I'll highlight a B2B example next.