Canvases and Conversations: Outline The Strategy and Value Proposition

With a common vision in hand, leadership now plans out the necessary steps to develop an understanding of what will need to be done and the measurable benefits of reaching that future horizon.

In many cases this is where business planning fails. Not in the creation of the wrong “plan”, but in creating unactionable plans that stymie the evolution to the desired future. Here is where the leadership team needs to dig in to understand what needs to be undertaken and what must change.

Over this series we have unpacked what needs to be focused on to prepare a meaningful plan.

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 Part Three — Define the Business or Solution Canvas, we outlined the approach to define either the new target business or the proposed solution required to address the business or client need. These canvases ensure that the business consider the various components of a successful definition and provide the foundation needed to identify the right strategy.

The primary focus in this episode will be the evolution of the operation outlined in “Business Model Canvas” from the current state to the future state. A future article will look at the approach that would be required to evolve the new product outlined on the “Solution Canvas”.

Through facilitated discussion we talk our way through each of the functions / activities that are performed by the business to convert inputs to outputs delivered to the clients. When discussing each function or activity we address the following questions:

  1. When performing the activity / function what general observations would we make about the effectiveness of the actions being taken toward producing the anticipated results?
  2. What challenges are being encountering in producing the outputs and what opportunities for improvement, new outputs, and / or refinements of outputs could lead to better of quicker outcomes?
  3. What should be the future state and how would be the functions / activities undertaken or what new approach used if we could replan the process given what we know today?
  4. With the new future state defined, what transformational initiatives would need to be undertaken to move to that new future?
  5. Given the breadth of change needed, will the organization need to target an interim state to stabilize operations prior to undertaking another series of changes to move to another interim or the final state.

The transformational initiatives need to be articulated through the use of a value chain to show what needs to be undertaken, by whom, when, and what results will be realized. This recognizes the need for distributed accountabilities, where needed, and the importance of earlier initiatives as foundational work toward trailing initiatives.

With the definition of the strategy in place, now ensure that there is compelling reason to move forward. This is captured in the Value Proposition Canvas, popularized by Alex Osterwalder et al in their book Value Proposition Design, and presented using a method that focusses on customer needs and the capabilities of that enhanced business. The interesting aspect of this approach is to think in terms of Wants and Needs which is common but using the concepts of Pains and Gains. A Pain / Need can be communicated in a way that is more visceral in nature. Understanding the real client pains and driving a business / solution to address those pains in a meaningful way can bring real purpose to an endeavour and ensure drive to succeed. With the Pain removed, it is then possible for the client to realize new benefits through Gains / Wants realized. Gains are communicated in a way where the client see themselves gaining from the services delivered.

Through this series we have talked a lot about direct engagement of the organization’s leadership in the process of clarifying the understanding of the market and business context, business / solution definition, transformational strategy, and value proposition development. At each step leadership continues to refine the targets, purpose and drivers behind its business. Taking leadership through this process is not to “document” but to “discover” and at the end of the journey there exists a refined definition of the business and its future direction.

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