For those who may not yet have seen the blog post, Alex has created a new tool as an addition to the canvas - the customer value canvas. It can be found through the link at the bottom of the Hub home page, or here

Business Model Alchemist

One of the most difficult challenges an innovation practitioner faces is reconciling all the different theoretical approaches, and variations on leading approaches. Often we are faced with incompatible or contradictory approaches and are left to reconcile the differences or adapt the approaches to make them compatible.

A great example of how approaches can be integrated is the collaboration between Alex Osterwalder and Steve Blank. The addition of the business model canvas to the customer development model (CDM) provided a strong tool to describe what Steve Blank instinctively knew was a key component of the model. The addition of the CDM to the business model canvas provided a process for the business model innovation in a start-up, entrepreneurial environment, to complement the existing business model innovation process in BMG. Steve Blank further extended the integration by the addition of the Lean/Agile product development as a method in "The Start-up Stack".

This new canvas tool takes integration in a different direction, vertical, by creating a 'plug-in' that helps one work out the details of the overall business canvas. Think of it as taking a portion of the canvas (value prop and customer segments) and blowing them up to focus on the details of that relationship. It is also is of great assistance in helping the client to focus on that part of the canvas and to identify and comprehend the relationship.

For some time now I have been experimenting with a couple of plug-ins to help clients work out the details of their value proposition in the business model. I have used the Value Mapping tool from the Board of Innovation, and the Whiteboard value map that is described in Cooper & Valskovitz's Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development. I have also experimented with some of the approaches in Ash Maurya's Running Lean; in particular, identifying three key problems and three solutions.

One of the best approaches I have plugged into the customer-value proposition analysis is the 'job-to-be-done' approach of Clayton Christensen and Mark Johnson. I use it in a table that has three columns. The first identifies the potential customers. The second column identifies the job each of these has to get done with which we can help, The third column identifies the need that customer has to get the job done. The 'need' becomes the value proposition in the model. By looking at column one we can identify key groupings of customers with similar jobs to form segments. Column three allows us to group based on value proposition and develop bundles of products and services.

I like this new tool by Alex and will be interested to see what the Hub community thinks of it and how it can evolve.

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Who can give me a mail of this content?In China,We can not browse the content in flickr.Thanks so much.

I'm new, just joined and am awaiting THE BOOK. Can you please spare a moment and tell me how to best use the site? I am a Veterinarian working to create a Business Model for a regional Veterinary Center. When I've searched the site I find virtually nothing Veterinary or Medical. Yet there must be a Pattern somewhere that other professionals use. As a newbie, I don't know where to start. Are there actually any models posted on the site?

Hi Roark

To the best of my knowledge there has been no specific discussions about business models in a medical context. So you may be breaking new ground on that subject. Some time ago I posted an analysis of non-profit medical services delivered in three locations. But I am not sure that would be particularly applicable in your situation.


I suggest you begin by looking at Alex's blog (link in the bottom right corner of the page) for any articles on understanding customers. The customer-value proposition is the core to any business model. Understanding the job that needs to be done by your clients/customers that you can help them with, or the problem they are trying to solve, is critical to a successful business. Identifying the key jobs or problems and what they need from you to solve them guides you to the value propositions you can offer.

After that you need to consider how you create revenue streams from those offers, and the channels you will use to communicate and carry out transactions. The customer relationships is used to look at your acquisition and retention strategies.

When you move to the infrastructure side of the canvas (activities, resources and partners) it is important to understand you are involved in a solution business - helping customers find solutions to the medical problem of their animals. In that type of business your activities include: what you do to acquire the problems these customers have, how you find options for a solution, how you choose and implement solutions and what controls do you place on the process. Resources will be concerned with tangible (like office), intangible (data, knowledge), human and financial things you need to run the business.

Most of this is explained in the book, but you should certainly read Alex's blog and browse the discussions in the forum and blog sections for solution businesses (consulting, law, medicine), or for understanding your customers/clients.

Thank you for your reply. I am astounded that there are not many medical business models in the group. I am getting a handle on the terminology and understand much of what you have relayed to me. The BOOK is coming today. I will be studying it and I DO appreciate your reference to Alex's Blog. Best wishes.

Roark Freeman, DVM

I like your job-to-be-done approach. For those that missed it I found the details and discussion here useful: 

I noted the Value Proposition Canvas is under copyright (not creative commons) so I assume it has to be licensed to use? 

Hi Johan

The copyright for the Value Proposition canvas is held by Business Model Foundry. I discussed this with Alex, as a key member of the BM Foundry. 

Like the Business Model canvas, the use of the VP canvas is open to everyone for your own business, for your company or in a consulting capacity, with the requirement of proper recognition of the source and copyright holders.

The difference for the copyright comes into play in the situation where one wished to sell posters or tools based on the VP canvas. Also, when one wished to incorporate the VP canvas in a software solution. In these situations the person must get explicit approval and agreement of the copyright holders - Business Model Foundry.

Hope this helps clarify.

Thanks for checking details with Alex and confirming.

Hi Mike,

I am new to this discussion so I may be addressing things that have already been bashed out, and if that is the case please bear with me.

I note in your comments, that one of the three columns in your analysis tool  is labelled 'Need'.

One of the problems I wrestle with regularly are the differences between need, which is often readily identified, demand and desire, both of which are less easily identified. In my experience people are more interested in their desires than their needs, unless those needs are within the lower echelons of Maslow's heirarchy of needs, and I'm not sure there is a driving level of demand or desire to resolve these higher needs.

As an example, it is well recognised that there is a strong need for improved numeracy skills in UK businesses. Govenmental bodies and academic institutions regularly state the size of the need and quote various statistical measure to justify that this need is real, but I do not see much desire from those lacking in numeracy skills to improve them. There are some who actively seek to improve, but the need clearly outstrips desire. Additionally where does demand fit into the equation? I do not see demand to be the same as desire and the demand for numeracy skills is clearly from businesses and institutions who recognise the need. So my question is: Can we really use need as the basis for value proposition, when it is desire that we need to measure?

Hi Tony

Okay, this is not an easy one to work through simply. There is an unfortunate complexity that can be created by using a term such as "need" which can be used in so many different ways and contexts. So let me be clear about the context in which I am using it.

The focus on need (an essential or very important requirement) stems from the work of Clayton Christensen, Mark Johnson and others at Harvard Business School around the shift in thinking about the "job-to-be-done". This concept is to have the job the person is trying to accomplish as the fundamental unit of analysis, rather than the customer (demographics or characteristics) being the focus. The classic case study here is Hilti, a construction tool manufacturer. For those unfamiliar with it, the position is people don't buy drills because they want to own a drill. They buy a drill because they have a job to do - drill a hole. It is that job the product manufacturer has to address.

Christensen has also discussed this in light of a fast food chain that wanted to improve its sales of its milkshakes. I won't go into the details here but there are lots of links available on You Tube. The important factor is to focus on here is what the person 'needs' (requires) to get that job done effectively. 

Steve Jobs had his own version of this relating to solving people's problems. His take was on understanding what problems, or pains, a person has related to a product or service, or what they hope to gain by an improved product or service. He was adamant you should never ask what your customer 'wants' (desires) as they don't know the art of the possible when it comes to solutions. There was a great quote (apocryphal or not) from Ford "If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said 'faster horses'." 

When it comes to designing a value proposition, one should never ask the customer what they want as a solution, for the most part they don't know what is possible only what is currently available. You should focus on what jobs they are trying to accomplish or problems they are trying to solve and what they need (require) from you in order to do that job or solve that problem.

Understanding the particular pains and gains related to that job or problem associated with a client segment becomes your deeper understanding of the customer, and how the value proposition has to be designed to create the most value for that customer segment.

Hi Mike,

Thanks for explaining. I am aware of the needs in the context explained, and I can see why you wouldn't ask the customer. I guess I was being devil's advocate with respect to desire and demand. What you have highlighted is that what people 'need' is a solution to a problem, I would see that as a desire to have the problem solved. Your second column positions a product/service that satisfies their 'need'. In the context you portray I would find your analysis tool very helpful.

Kind regards


It's funny how things evolve.  This new integration to the BMC addresses questions that I posted here a while ago about "interests" and how to create some sort of mechanism to negotiate a potential client's interests with one or more value propositions.  The approach Alex takes here nails it and, frankly, answers those earlier questions.  It also provides opportunities for businesses to create KPIs that will help gauge how well products and services are responding to customer needs, etc.  Bravo!

As an experiment, I've attempted to integrate the BMC and the VPC...



Note that I've adapted the "Financial Perspective" to more of a "Measurement Perspective" using a Triple Bottom Line framework (Planet, People, Profit) on the bottom.


Note also that I've shifted the Key Partner window (consideration) to the middle of the diagram to symbolize how KPs might be leveraged for almost anything.


Thoughts?  Ideas?


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