A Preferred Planning Tool for Boards: The Business Model Canvas

Posted by Amy Williams on Jan 5, 2017 4:34:19 PM

Recently, I needed to create a simple business plan for a new service offering. We’ve been developing the offering for months, so I just needed something that would clearly and succinctly outline the plan for leadership.

I stumbled across a great tool, The Business Model Canvas, which was developed by Alexander Osterwalder in 2008. The Harvard Business Review highlighted it as one of three principles in its 2013 article “Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything.”

The 1 page canvas is a diagram of how an organization creates value for itself and its customers (or in this case, members). It allows any organization to visually define its business model in 9 boxes. It demonstrates what an organization does (or wants to do) and how it is going to do it in a simple and concise way. The tool is great for boards that are considering new initiatives or revisiting existing ones, as it enables structured conversations around management and strategy.  

There are nine elements of the Business Model Canvas, with questions to consider for each element. The information is presented in a one page format illustrated below.  

  1. Key Partners
  2. Key Activities
  3. Key Resources
  4. Value Propositions
  5. Customer Relationships
  6. Customer Segments
  7. Channels
  8. Cost Structure
  9. Revenue Streams

Business Model Canvas.jpg

The Business Model Canvas can be re-created on flip charts or dry erase boards so boards can start sketching and discussing elements with post-it notes or markers. There is a PDF download available and an online version.

The Business Model Canvas is more visual, more dynamic, is not time sensitive and it’s about actions and activities just as much as it is about thinking and results. When your board has a new initiative to discuss, try using this business model canvas as your guide and see where you go with

Topics: leadership, Governance