How can we work like designers when we create business models?

Googlers get taught how to think more creatively about exploring business models. We mere mortals can sit and watch while guru Alex Osterwalder talks us through the ideas in his bestselling book

Alex seems a little uncertain about the level to pitch it to these guys. Sometimes he seems worried as to whether he’s going a bit too fast, other times he’s probably saying things that are too obvious. Ultimately this doesn’t really detract from a valuable introduction to an analytical tool that is gaining serious traction in the entrepreneurial and investment communities.

Alex’s book is called: Business Model generation, co-authored by Yves Pigneur. The modelling tool is called the Business Model Canvas.

It’s a template which includes tiny writing, some of which is so small that the canvas really needs to be printed on a giant poster in order to read it. What ungenerous soul could possibly suggest that the layout might have been typographically designed to make non-poster size canvases unreadable, purely as a way of uniquely branding the canvas consumption experience?

Wikipedia‘s article on the book offers the nine elements of the canvas in list form. I’ve included them below.

Infrastructure

Key Activities: The activities necessary to execute a company’s business model.

Key Resources: The resources that are necessary to create value for the customer.

Partner Network: The business alliances which complement other aspects of the business model.

Offering

Value Proposition: The products and services a business offers.

Customers

Customer Segments: The target audience for a business’ products and services.

Channels: The means by which a company delivers products and services to customers. This includes the company’s marketing and distribution strategy.

Customer Relationship: The links a company establishes between itself and its different customer segments.

Finances

Cost Structure: The monetary consequences of the means employed in the business model. A company’s DOC.

Revenue Streams: The way a company makes money through a variety of revenue flows. A company’s income.

Alex Osterwalder’s background

He helped build and sell Arvetica, which offers consulting on the private banking and wealth management industry and provides a peer knowledge exchange for senior executives in private banking (www.privatebankinginnovation.com).

Before that he founded and ran BusinessModelDesign.com (which now redirects to businessmodelalchemist.com) which provides strategy consulting on business model innovation. He also helped develop a not for profit network in Thailand called The Constellation to better respond to the challenges of HIV/AIDS and Malaria.

He has a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems (MIS) from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, He also developed and taught a seminar on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D).

Previously, he was active as an entrepreneur in the banking sector and as an online business journalist for BILANZ. He is an inaugural member of the Open World Initiative (OWI) of the Evian Group at IMD, Switzerland.