I had an interesting exchange with fellow Hubber Michel Blumenthal this week and thought I would share with he community some of the thoughts around using the Value Proposition canvas.

Alex has spoken often about the need to handle the right side of the canvas first. One of the exercises I do is to use two flip charts. On the first flip chart we draw the Client side of the value canvas. We don't even draw the left side of the canvas until we have filled out the first side. Interestingly this forces the participants to focus on the client first. The flip chart sheets can then be put up on the wall side-by-side.

I have  found multiple ways to use the Value side of the canvas:

Deductive: when the business has a clear vision of the offer, the create and relieve components can be used to validate, and if necessary modify the offer (product or service).

Inductive: using the create and relieve components the offer can be designed to deliver on those elements.

Evaluative: On a large scale innovation project we began by developing value canvases for the major client segments. We brainstormed possible solution approaches that could address using the pains and gains identified in the canvases. We developed 9 prototype solutions. To do the first evaluation, qualitative, we collated the pains and gains of all clients into a master list. We then looked at each solution, its complexity and cost, and measured how many on the pains and gains it would address. It gave us an interesting view of effectiveness over delivery and cost.

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Hi Mike, That sounds interesting - are you able to share a sample of  the output? Regards Simon

Hello Mike-san, 

Thank you for your sharing. It would be great and worth trying for our brainstorming.

Best Regards,


Mike, thanks for sharing such interesting exercise.

In addition to the exercise I would like to ask how you are filling up the value proposition canvas in terms of covering all questions that Alex suggests.

Let get JTBD side, we can divide the areas into:

1) there are main functional, social and emotional jobs and basic needs

2) there are secondary jobs (buyer, co-creator, transferrer)

3) ranking each job based on how significant it is. How often ?

4) context that job happen

Do you really cover all four points on your exercise ? Like getting an existing post-it of 1) and do a graph annotation (eg:points) to identify and answer the 3) ?

I think Alex got those concepts from Clayton Christensen or Scott Anthonby book Innovation Guide to Growth book on chapter 4, where it suggests to have table on how to rank based importance,how often,frustration, points and final score.

Sometime, due to the excess of information (questions) on the value canvas, might get a bit polluted answering all, so dont want to make a cognitive murder when using with others :-)...maybe doing a brainstorm (divergent) outside the canvas and then doing convergent , moving to the canvas area.

Thanks a lot,



Thanks for the comments. I think you need to step back a bit and look at level of detail and focus.

You are correct in the thought that the job-to-be-done concept originated at Harvard business school. The framing of this approach was by Theodore Levitt. "People don't buy a drill because they want a drill, they buy a drill because they need a hole." Clayton, and people like Scott Anthony and Mark Johnson, have contributed to evolving the thinking of the application of the concept. Alex has had many discussions with Mark, Scott and Clay on this subject.

In the BMG perspective, the j-t-b-d approach is a key building block of developing and understanding the customer-value proposition relationship. This is extended by the tool Alex, Yves and Alan Smith created, the Value Proposition Canvas. 

One of the dangers in building canvases is the tendency to get wrapped up in too much detail. Remember this is a strategy tool. This is something I had to learn in my early work. Alex was always challenging me on the level of detail (too much noise). Being a business analyst by profession, I tended to have lot of detail on the infrastructure side, driving down into process descriptions rather than thinking about capabilities the business needed. I see some of that in the questions you are asking above. It is easy to over-analyse and break things down into component parts that lock you up in analysis.

A second point raised by your questions is focus.

The focus of analysis in the value proposition canvas is not the job-to-be-done, but the pains experienced and the gains to be accomplished by the client segment. The purpose of the VP canvas is as a pointer to help you identify a set of assumptions about the client-value proposition you then have to validate in the real world with customers (getting out of the building). It is in the process of discovery and validation that the value of this approach is demonstrated. I would suggest there is considerably less value in a deep analysis of the j-t-b-d than the analysis of your assumptions about the client segments. 

Mike, thanks a lot for your thoughts and comments. I do agree, the canvas (BM o or VPC) it self are easy, the process that everybody struggles is to have focus and be strategic and full fill only what is really the differentiation (key),

This is a very useful suggestion.  Getting started is usually an issue, at least for me.  This gets a little more complex when the user and the customer are not the same.  The distinction for me being the Customer is the one you have a commercial transaction with.  The User may simply be someone else using or benefiting.  For example with Google Search the customer is the entity buying advertising and the User is someone doing a search.

Let me provide another perspective on the user / customer view you raised.

If you treat this model as a multi-sided platform, where the participation of the paying customer is contingent on the non-paying customer (user), it is evident both of these entities are customer segments. Each of them has, or should have a specific value proposition to drive their participation, and the success of the business is built on the relationship between these two entities.

Ultimately though, both of these entities - free users and revenue generators are customer segments. You should be able to map out the pains and gains for each of these segments separately. If the vp for the users (non-revenue generating) isn't strong enough, then there will likely be a poor vp for the paying segment.

Mike, I think it is good to learn the meaning of certain words in context of their usage and application.  I can certainly accept this broad definition of Customer in the context of the Business Model Canvas lexicon.  Thanks for clarifying this important point.

As you stated, for each customer segment on the same BMC, one VPC for each should be used.

Steve Blank in his book 4 Steps says that customer segments are those who have similar needs and usuarlly can communicate to each other (to be used as word of mouth on the Get, Keep & Growth mode of Customer Relationship block)

Like your previous discussion from last year, the JTBD is not sufficiet, but how relevant the pain is for them when trying to accomplish it.

I suggest reading key information from the following the http://strategyn.com/jobs-to-be-done/.

Regarding if there is any value from JTBD, I believe there is considerable value in deep diving on the concept  while asking what are the pains and gains from the customer perspective to assist in proving your assumptions and narrowing  the "path to the customer" for determining if there is a product/service fit for each particular customer segment being addressed. Remember you are asking and executing this process to better understand the customer and understand what is the problem they are trying to solve for validation purposes(evaluative and deductive included). Agreed this(VP Canvas) is a thinking and strategy tool(better yet probing), however some level of detail is necessary which is where JTBD shines and in my opinion shifts the trajectory of the conversation.



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