Canvases and Conversations: Define the Business or Solution Canvas

If a business wishes to develop a shared and clearly understood vision, it must be able to provide a clear statement of its intended future target. The Business Canvas is the vehicle that is used to unfold that vision.

In Part One — The Key Ingredients To A Shared Vision, we talked about the importance of focused conversations in realizing a common understanding amongst business leadership and communication with the organization.

In Part Two — Clarify the Context for Discovery, we clarified the problem / high level business need through definition of the intermediate and ultimate outcomes required to meet customer needs and evolved an understanding of the Business Context.

In this instalment we will outline the approach to Define the Business or Solution Canvas outlined in the “Initiative Outline” and refined in the Business Contxt as one of two possible approaches:

  • Business Model Canvas, or
  • Solution Model Canvas.

The Business Model Canvas, popularized by Osterwalder & Pigneaur in the book Business Model Generation, will present a high level view of the operational business and allows the organization to focus on its core activities. Operations involve an ongoing value chain from inputs, processes (including partner activities) through client relationships and channels to provide clients with what they need.

The Solution Canvas, is based on the work of Ash Maurya in book Lean Running, is not looking at an operational business but is formulating a solution to address a business problem. This could be in the form of a new service, new product, or an entirely new market segment. The solution will address a real business problem with a minimum viable product that showcases the unique skills / services of the organization. The Solution Canvas is advocated as a solid approach for Entrepreneurs to focus their offering and ensuring that they stay on point to deliver value to the customer.

In a nut shell Business Model Canvas is proposing a business structure to establish a long term relationship with a client where as the Solution Canvas is focussing on a product or offering to address a problem of a customer.

Though there are some differences in the questions addressed, the overall methodology is the same.

  1. Share the Context Model or Problem statement evolved in earlier stages.
  2. Talk through the client role / job associated with the canvas
  3. Ensure a clear understanding of the outcomes to be realized in addressing the problem / need.
  4. Clarify what outputs are required to realize the outcomes.
  5. Finalize the process / activity descriptions needed to produce the required outputs
  6. Identify what partnering relationships or services are needed to support the processes

The leadership team will have a facilitated discussiont that will meander through the topics in the order outlined. Through this “talk through” the group will continue to refine prior understandings and the wording of canvases and subjects. Though there may be loop backs, the facilitator will draw the group to completion of the analysis subject and moved to the next. With the involvement of leadership directly in this work, focused understanding grows and refines the vision.

The facilitator will be continuing to monitor the progress of the group through the required topics and continue to ensure that what is stated in a later topic connects back to prior statements. As a example, if there is a statement that a fleet management activity is required, but the customer channels are all through web sites and mail order, the facilitator will evolve the conversation to understand if logistics such as warehousing are needed to meet the need. This may evolve descriptions of the Partners, Services, Outputs, and / or Channels associated with the elaborated business.

For the organization to have a clear and complete understanding of what is needed, care must be taken to ensure that the activities / processes discussed are discrete functions needed to delivery the outputs mandated to meet the client desired outcomes. The organization may have a number of low value legacy processes that are no long critical to the delivery of client value and may need when assessed within the context of the current market.

Overall the language presented on the canvases must be clear / non jargon and able to be shared with all members of the organization and its clients. The transparency of the model will ensure that it can communicate the vision for all to understand.

In Part Four — Outline The Strategy and Value Proposition — we will evolve a “how” for the business to move towards the target state and re-punctuate a powerful “Why” through a clear and compelling Value Proposition.

How important is a concise picture of the business or solution to focussing the various groups charged with delivering customer value?

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