Wanted: Business Model Researcher (submissions closed)

Does this sound like you? You strive to help companies unlock potential by using better business design techniques. You have already done so by researching, applying and "teaching" practical and visual business design tools, in particular the Business Model Canvas and the Value Proposition Canvas.

The opportunity

Work with me and the team behind Business Model Generation (500,000+ copies in 26 languages), the Business Model Toolbox for iPad, Strategyzer.com, and the Business Design Summit. Your research on interesting cases, their business model mechanics and their transformation into remarkable presentations and stories will transform the way people design businesses around the globe. You work from home, anywhere in the world, and with flexible working hours (potentially part-time).

What we expect

You have a deep curiosity for how organisations work and could work better. Your "hunger" to do your best work ever is insane and you are more motivated and better qualified than anybody else to do this job. You have a business research background, potentially a PhD, but also have practical experience in a company, as a consultant, or as an entrepreneur. Your conceptual and practical understanding of the Business Model Canvas is proven. Finally, you are NOT an asshole.

The challenge

You will put together amazing case studies and stories that help people understand business model innovation and transformation. What I'm taking about here are not the traditional text-heavy Harvard Business School cases, but beautiful, simple, and captivating presentations and stories that open people's eyes to the potential and particularities of business model innovation (cf SunEdison, Re-Inventing How We Do Start-Ups!). You will work with me and potentially others from the team on a regular basis via Skype.

How to apply:

  • Tell us: Which business design methods you deeply understand (your level: 0 to 10 / 0=never heard of)? Business Model Canvas (Osterwalder & Pigneur), Customer Development (Blank & Dorf), Lean Startup (Eric Ries), Strategy Maps (Kaplan & Norton), Disruptive Innovation (Clayton Christensen), Jobs-to-be-done (Christensen, Anthony, Ulwick), Value Proposition Canvas (Osterwalder, Pigneur, Smith, Bernarda), Blue Ocean Strategy (Kim & Mauborgne).
  • Tell us: Which of the following authors have you read? Mark Johnson, Rita McGrath, Vijay Govindarajan, Chris Trimble, Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds, Dan Roam, Dave Gray, David Sibbet, John Medina.
  • Show off your skills: Compare the business models of Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook.
  • Share: Your expectations (including salary) and a story that left a mark on your career and thinking

Apply: send your application with all of the above to xxxxx (sorry, submissions closed) (tip: don't forget that my schedule is pretty busy and that I don't have time to read a lot of text ;-)

Business Model Toolbox for iPad #BMTBox

I wrote about Computer Aided Design Tools (CAD) for business people years back in my doctoral dissertation. With the Business Model Toolbox for iPad we now made the first concrete steps towards a whole new breed of computer aided business design tools. The Toolbox combines the speed of a napkin sketch with the smarts of a spreadsheet. It enables you to map, test, and iterate your business ideas — fast.

It always struck me that we have relatively few good software tools in business to think through more strategic issues. We do have sophisticated business analytics tools to make sense of large amounts of quantitative data. We do have spreadsheets to simulate complicated financial scenarios. Yet, what do we have today to design and test strategies and business models? Little. That’s exactly why the team behind the bestselling book Business Model Generation developed the Business Model Toolbox for iPad (V.1.0.) together with Geneva-based development firm Hortis le studio.

Watch my rough and improvised demo. It's filmed with my iPhone in the middle of Berlin where I'm giving a keynote at Process World 2011 - more sophisticated product videos to come soon ;-)


The Toolbox V.1.0. focused on three core activities required to prototype business models:

  • Sketch your business model using the practical methodology from the best-selling book, Business Model Generation.
  • Add ballpark figures for market size, revenue streams, and costs — faster than any spreadsheet.
  • Test the profitability of your ideas with a quick report and breakdowns by offer, customer segments, and costs.

Below are the screenshots of the simple example I sketched out in the video...

Starting a simple business model prototype (without costs)

Adding revenue streams: sales through the app store (and paying a Apple a 30% cut of your sales)

Playing with revenue stream ideas: what about a Web subscription?

Report view of a more complex business model

Obviously, many people asked us why just for the iPad. As soon as we launched they immediately asked for Android and Web versions. From a business perspective it might have indeed been smarter to start with a Web app because of its broader reach. This is particularly true, since we started developing the Toolbox when it was far from clear if anybody would buy an iPad.

The reason we went for the iPad first is because I firmly believe that the touch interface and the relatively large screen of the iPad will allow us to demystify and democratize the prototyping of business models - just like the visual design of the Business Model Generation book helped demystify and democratize business model thinking and thus make it accessible to a larger audience than the usual business book readers.

By going for the iPad first and the Web second we wanted to show what's really possible when it comes to prototyping business models. Using your fingers to pull in virtual sticky notes just feels so much more natural than using a computer mouse, doesn't it? The iPad app allowed us to test and validate this theory.

Today there are about 19 million iPads in the market (read more) and there is no doubt that Apple is currently dominating the tablet market. More interestingly, a majority of the senior executives and entrepreneurs I work with have an iPad. Some of them even bought an iPad just to use the app. For all others we will have good news later this year. The Business Model Foundry will continue to develop breakthrough tools for the Business Model Generation.

Go get the Business Model Toolbox for iPad if you don't have it yet and got curious after reading this post. It will help you build better business models at the price of a lunch. Is a better business model worth it? read more... buy it on the appstore...
PS: Here at Process World 2011 in Berlin where I currently am at I'll give a keynote about bridging the gap between business strategy and processes through the Business Model Canvas. Already, Software AG, one of our partner companies and organizer of Process World, has integrated the Business Model Canvas into ARIS, their business process management tool (read more).

Business Model Generation on Amazon.com Now

The first print-run of Business Model Generation was sold out after a few weeks only. We couldn't keep up with demand and were out of stock for a while. Now the book is available again. You can get it directly on Amazon.com in a deluxe or portable version.

Business Model Generation has been selling phenomenally well - and that without a publisher and 0 marketing budget. Last week it even ranked #2 in sales of management books on Amazon.com. For this second print-run we decided to produce two slightly different versions: a deluxe version for your office and a portable version for the road. Deluxe Version

The particularity of the deluxe version is its beautiful cardboard cover and special binding, which allows you to lay it flat open on a table. Yet, it's not only attractive, but also offers you the perfect working experience that you would expect from a hands-on and practical book. However, be careful: deluxe versions are objects of envy - it's not unheard of that copies get stolen when you leave them unsupervised on your desk.

buy now

Portable Version

We introduced the portable version in order to offer you a lighter and more portable copy at a lower price. The content is the same, but its format (perfect bound and softcover) is designed for taking it on the road. Business Model warriors will likely own both versions. One to show off at their office and one to take with them anywhere they go.

buy now

Caveat

Unfortunately, Amazon.com currently restricts us from offering a top-notch service to some customer segments. Readers outside the US cannot benefit from expedited shipping. Also, Amazon.com does not ship the book to Canada, due to internal restrictions. Hopefully, we can find a way around those limitations in the future.

Mapping Business Models (a Knowledge Game)

Mapping out a business model with a group of people is like playing a game. That's what I came to realize when my friend and leading visual thinker, Dave Gray, introduced me to his new project called Knowledge Games.

I was instantly fascinated by the project, because it is extremely relevant for anybody who wants to understand how creative work is starting to be organized in today's organizations. Yet, most interestingly, the Knowledge Games project is utterly practical, since it aims to outline a series of games designed to help you get more innovative, creative results in your work. The authors of the project, Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo are on the best path towards creating the next reference guide for the creative business professional and business innovator. The metaphor of games refers to the most natural of human mechanisms of exploring the world: games & play. And what could be more important than exploration when it comes to defining strategy and business models in a competitive environment characterized by volatility, unknowns and constant change:

Games come naturally to human beings. Playing a game is a way of exploring the world, a form of structured play, a natural learning activity that’s deeply tied to growth. Games can be fun and entertaining, but games can have practical benefits too.

When Dave asked me to formulate the usage of the Business Model Canvas as a Knowledge Game I was immediately hooked. Here is the blogpost I wrote for the Knowledge Games project (check out the original post):

Objective of Play: Visualize a business model idea or an organization's current and/or future business model in order to create a shared understanding and highlight key drivers.

Number of Players: 1-6 (depending on the objective). Works well individually to quickly sketch out and think through a business model idea or an interesting business portrayed in the press. To map an organization's existing and/or future business model you should work in groups. The more diverse the group of players (marketing, operations, finance, IT, etc.), the more accurate the picture of the business model will be.

Duration of Play: Anywhere between 15 minutes for individual play (napkin sketch of a business model idea), half a day (to map an organization's existing business model), and two days (to develop a future business model or start-up business model, including business case).

Material required: Mapping business models works best when players work on a poster on the wall. To run a good session you will need the following:

  • A very large print of a Business Canvas Poster. Ideally B0 format (1000mm × 1414mm or 39.4in × 55.7in)
  • Tons of sticky notes (i.e. post-it® notes) of different colors
  • Flip chart markers
  • Camera to capture results
  • The facilitator of the game might want to read an outline of the Business Model Canvas (free 72 page preview of Business Model Generation



How to Play: There are several games and variations you can play with the Business Model Canvas Poster. Here we describe the most basic game, which is the mapping of an organization's existing business model (steps 1-3), it's assessment (step 4), and the formulation of improved or potential new business models (step 5). The game can easily be adapted to the objectives of the players.

  1. A good way to start mapping your business model is by letting players begin to describe the different customer segments your organization serves. Players should put up different color sticky notes on the Canvas Poster for each type of segment. A group of customers represents a distinct segment if they have distinct needs and you offer them distinct value propositions (e.g. a newspapers serves readers and advertisers), or if they require different channels, customer relationships, or revenue streams.
  2. Subsequently, players should map out the value propositions your organization offers each customer segment. Players should use same color sticky notes for value propositions and customer segments that go together. If a value proposition targets two very different customer segments, the sticky note colors of both segments should be used.
  3. Then players should map out all the remaining building blocks of your organization's business model with sticky notes. They should always try to use the colors of the related customer segment.
  4. When the players mapped out the whole business model they can start assessing its strength and weaknesses by putting up green (strength) and red (weakness) sticky notes alongside the strong and weak elements of the mapped business model. Alternatively, sticky notes marked with a "+" and "-" can be used rather than colors.
  5. Based on the visualization of your organization's business model, which players mapped out in steps 1-4, they can now either try to improve the existing business model or generate totally new alternative business models. Ideally players use one or several additional Business Model Canvas Posters to map out improved business models or new alternatives.

Strategy: This is a very powerful game to start discussing an organization's or a department's business model. Because the players visualize the business model together they develop a very strong shared understanding of what their business model really is about. One would think the business model is clear to most people in an organization. Yet, it is not uncommon that mapping out an organization's business model leads to very intense and deep discussions among the players to arrive at a consensus on what an organization's business model really is.

The mapping of an organization's existing business model, including its strengths and weaknesses, is an essential starting point to improve the current business model and/or develop new future business models. At the very least the game leads to a refined and shared understanding of an organization's business model. At its best it helps players develop strategic directions for the future by outlining new and/or improved business models for the organization.

Variations: The Business Model Canvas Tool can be the basis of several other games, such as games to:

  • generate a business model for a start-up organization
  • develop a business model for a new product and/or service
  • map out the business models of competitors, particularly insurgents with new business models
  • map out and understand innovative business models in other industries as a source of inspiration
  • communicate business models across an organization or to investors (e.g. for start-ups)

Interviews on Music Industry Business Models

I admit, I have been posting about the music industry too much recently. However, by studying it we can learn a lot about business model innovation in general (or a lack of it).

After my keynote at the Eurosonic Noorderslag music industry event I gave a short interview. Check it out and don't miss out on the interview with Niklas Ivarsson of Spotify (promise: my next blogpost will certainly not be about the music industry - I will explain how to use the Business Model Canvas to play a game).

Spotify is one of the hot start-ups in the music industry. I portrayed the company's business model in my keynote by sketching it out with the Canvas. Niklas Ivarsson, their global head of licensing, outlines the services of his company in the interview below. Interestingly, he also explains how many users prefer using Spotify rather than relying on piracy for music.