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You may have heard about the book from Alex Osterwalder called “Business Model Generation” ( which addresses a generation of visionary entrepreneurs who like to go beyond traditional business models and create new future-oriented companies running cool, innovative and modern businesses.

But hold on a moment! As this is about innovating something new, there should be a natural relationship to Design Thinking.

A few weeks ago, I’ve checked this out and realized that one of the key tools of Alex Osterwalder, the so-called “Business Model Canvas”, also works perfectly in the context of design challenges which are at a lower scale than completely new business models for new companies. The Business Model Canvas represents a business model or business case with nine simple building blocks, including customer segments, channels, and relationships; value proposition, key activities, resources and partners; cost structure and revenue streams ( The canvas therefore combines the economic viability of a solution with its desirability and feasibility.

The challenge where I have used the canvas was about innovating a new learning solution. At the beginning of the design cycle, the Canvas helped to describe the actual learning solution (e.g. traditional class room trainings) as a kind of granular business model and put it into the context of actual trends.

This in combination with further research results made it easy to identify and synthesize, per each Canvas building block, key pain points users have with the current solution. For example, the canvas section “business model channel” is an obvious pain point for certain user types when delivering classrooms trainings which require physical presence.

This exercise was the perfect starting point for moving forward into ideation. The AS-IS model identified user pain points and within the context of actual trends made the brainstorming sparkling like breakwater.

But this is not the end. After creating a low-fi prototype for the prioritized new learning solution, we have complemented the prototyped solution with the to-be business model to underpin its viability, desirability and feasibility.

To sum it up, the Business Model Canvas can be used in various ways during the Design Thinking modes and I’m sure that there are many more ways to use it.

Recently, I was thinking about using the Canvas in the context of discovering Big Data opportunities for a company or business section. How do you feel about that? I would be happy to learn more about your experiences with the Canvas.

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