Facilitating the Business Model Canvas: A Few Lessons Learned (Part 1)

Value Propositions Strategic InitiativesI’ve had the privilege of introducing the Business Model Canvas to several audiences in the past year. As you might be aware, the Business Model Canvas shows 9 interlocking and integrated elements, the most important of those being the value proposition. The canvas is developed specific to one business, and when completed, promises users they will understanding how your business model works and makes for competitive advantage.

I thought it would be valuable to share some of my learnings as a facilitator in order to help readers know what to expect if they are facilitating or preparing to participate.

By far, the biggest challenge for participants is taking the names of the 9 categories and identifying specific instances.  For example, they list “customers” as a category under “customer segments” instead of breaking that down into more meaningful segments. Perhaps this is because I haven’t had enough marketing people in the sessions.  I find that participants outside of marketing don’t have working knowledge of their employer’s strategies for segmentation.

Most established companies have more than one business model, but their organization is trying to cope by asking people (including the top managers) to run all of the business with one organization.  I’ve tried to anticipate this in setting up the facilitation sessions, but is remains a difficulty because the people who should know their businesses are deeply immersed in their activities and have a tough time stepping back.

It’s best to provide plenty of clear and relevant examples of the Business Model Canvas for other organizations.

Given that the client companies have many moving parts, and individuals sometimes lost in the details, I recommend devoting plenty of time to the development work.  I also find it important to help them understand the value of the exercise:

  • “You are going to see a bigger picture of the parts of your organization.”
  • “You are going to see the value proposition, the basis of your advantage over competitors.”
  • “You are going to gain insights on how to grow your business.”
  • “You are going to gain insights on how to streamline your business models.”

Participants report that they find the exercise very interesting in understanding their business. Every person believes that the resulting canvas is a tool that could be used to guide strategic initiatives.

How have you used the Business Model Canvas? What additional lessons learned do you have?


About Greg Githens

Author, How to Think Strategically (2019) Executive and leadership coach. Experience in driving change in Fortune 500 and mid-size companies through strategic initiatives and business transformation. Seminar leader and facilitator - high-impact results in crafting and delivering strategy, strategic initiatives, program management, innovation, project management, risk, and capturing customer requirements.
This entry was posted in Strategic Planning Issues for Strategic Initiatives, Strategy Coaching and Facilitation, Useful Practices & Management Tools and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Facilitating the Business Model Canvas: A Few Lessons Learned (Part 1)

  1. Rupert, Martin says:

    Hi Greg,

    Is there an electronic format for the Business Canvas Model? If so, could you share it?

    Marty Rupert

  2. Greg Githens says:

    I’ve always done this face-face using flip charts and stick notes. I really think that is the right way to go.
    There are many free apps available on the itunes store. Although this isn’t electric, it provides a good tool for facilitation and I’ll give it a try next time out: search on the web for business_model_canvas_facilitator_cards1.pdf
    Thanks for the question!

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