In our report on why and how people use the Business Model Canvas, we discovered that one of the most appreciated features of the Business Model Canvas is that it creates a shared language. Related to this we also learned that people feel that the Canvas leads to better strategic conversations, better ideas put on the table, and more structured, practical outcomes to implement.
Because of this research and countless experiences with companies around the world we believe that one of the most powerful aspects of our tools is that they create better conversations and a shared understanding. Yet, companies are often unaware of how ineffective their communication is when it comes to strategy and innovation.
Co-create with stakeholders
Have you ever been in an ineffective meeting with a lot of talk and little output? Of course this is a rhetorical question. We’ve all been there. But the risk of holding ineffective meetings is even bigger when it comes to complex topics like reinventing business models, creating value propositions, or designing organizational cultures.
At Strategyzer, we call this the land of Blah Blah Blah inspired by our friend Dan Roam’s book with the same title. It’s the invisible obstacle that impedes co-creation of value at all levels of an organization. That’s why we advocate using practical and visual tools in every meeting. Making conversations visible and tangible makes them more focused and leaves less space for getting off track.
We’ve seen countless times that teams that use the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas in their meetings to discuss their ideas collaborate exceptionally well, and advance much faster than without these tools. In fact, they help establish a shared language that empowers teams to better collaborate.
In our work we’ve seen this type of improved communication, collaboration and co-creation in several parts of the organization. At the:
- Leadership level: These tools help senior leaders (e.g. C-level executives) have better strategic conversations, more concretely turn the company’s vision into a strategic blueprint, and more effectively discuss and decide on business model and value proposition challenges. It leads to alignment among decision makers.
- Team level: Here the tools create a shared language between team members that may come from very different backgrounds. In particular innovation teams are very diverse. They may be composed of technologists, marketers, product managers, or even sociologists. Traditionally, they don’t speak the same language.
- Cross-functional (horizontal) level: Product management, marketing, and sales rarely speak the same language. Yet, they need to communicate frequently when it comes to understanding customers, the launch of new products and services, or explaining how exactly an organization is creating value for customers. This is just one example of cross-functional collaboration and co-creation where tools like the Canvases make work more effective.
Articulate how you (intend to) create value
How many times have you felt lost when somebody tried to explain their business or how they create value for customers? Or maybe you’ve been on the explainer's side trying to outline or pitch a business idea. It turns out that most people are not very good at clearly articulating their business model or value proposition.
That’s where tools can help as well. With the Value Proposition Canvas you can clearly tell the story of how your organisation’s products and services create value for customers. And since a business needs to make a profit to be sustainable and grow you can use the Business Model Canvas to tell clearly the story of how your business creates, delivers, and captures value for your organization.
That ability to clearly articulate the story of value creation is particularly important when you pitch a new idea. In this type of situation you also want to be able to clearly articulate which hypotheses need to be true for your idea to work and which hypotheses you’ve already validated by providing evidence.
Communicate across the entire organization
Organizations often resemble the tower of Babel. Individuals speak past each other without really understanding each-other's arguments. People don't quite understand what their peers from other departments are up to either. It’s not uncommon that information is transformed, or gets lost between functions and levels. Yet, its essential to get everyone aligned across the organisation on how each team and individual contributes to the overarching business model to achieve strategic goals.
Here the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas help senior leadership more clearly communicate the company's strategic blueprint across the organization to vertically align. At the same time, these tools empower teams and individuals to make explicit how they contribute to value creation. And sometimes internal teams (e.g. IT, marketing, etc.) use the Business Model Canvas to outline their “business model” to more consciously create and deliver value to other departments and functions.
Speaking the same language is key to mobilizing an entire organization to achieve shared goals. MasterCard was one of the first organizations we’ve seen that scaled the usage of the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas to create this kind of shared language. After about a year, they already trained 10% of their entire global workforce to more clearly articulate how they create value for their customers and their company with the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas.
How have you used The Business Model and/or Value Proposition Canvas to create better communication and better conversations?