I have tried Business Model Canvas (#BMC). It is good, but not for me!

2015-10-12, 17:25 Posted by: Advisory

I have tried Business Model Canvas. It is good, but not for me! This is something that I hear often  when asking people about usage of BMC. I will try below to give my thoughts on why it happens and how to avoid ending up there.

I have worked with Business Model Canvas (BMC) for almost five years and over the last three years I have used it as a tool to align cross functional groups around the goals and to work cross functional on strategic business and product challenges and opportunities. My clients are in many industries such as transportation, heavy industry, manufacturing, premium consumer products, public service, service companies, MedTech and so on. So I know, by experience, that it can help and improve the discussion in any context and any organisation!

Over the last three years I would say that in the average crowed the percentage that know about BMC has increased from 10 to 40 percent in the groups I work with.  Fewer has used it but those are also increasing rapidly. When checking if they are still using it almost half of them has stopped and some of the answers are:

  • It looks easy but it was really hard
  • We did one version but then it was difficult to continue
  • It did not give me or us anything
  • We ended up arguing about where to put what, in which box…

In the beginning this surprised me while my experience was that it was extremely powerful and the feedback from the groups was very positive. My favourite comment after a workshop was "It was like discussing in 3D" :-), which I received just before the summer.

So why  is it so difficult for some?


  1. It looks so simple - I think the biggest challenge is that it looks so simple to use while it is like a canvas but to make something beautiful on a canvas you need to know how to paint. That requires a lot of skills and different technics. The same goes for BMC where you need business development, business model patterns, entrepreneurship, strategic thinking, product strategy, marketing and so on.
  2. It is not a way of work - you need to apply a way of work on the BMC and the thought process should be different than you normally do things, more a customer development / design thinking approach.
  3. Know your goals - This is extremely important that you know what you need to accomplish and design the work on BMC with that in mind. This will be very different if you try to change you company business model or if you are investigating a new offering.

My approach to succeeding with my assignments and workshops are:

  1. Outside - in perspective with values from Customer Development and Service Design
  2. Cross - functional groups where R&D, IT, Marketing, Sales and so on are involved
  3. Validated learning as described in Lean StartUp. Constantly asking the question " What must be true for this to work?" and finding ways to validate that.

But this is not enough, you need also the evangelist/facilitator who can drive the discussion forward and design group exercises which generates the result needed for reaching the goal. The evangelist can be internal if they have the right background and mandate but in many organizations it can be easier to have an external evangelist in the beginning, like me ;-).

What are your concepts for succeeding when working with Business  Model Canvas?

Peter Tyreholt

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ptyreholt

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