by Kevin Gepford
What’s the Business Model Canvas? The Canvas is a one-page template that lays out both what you do, and how you go about doing it. It documents existing business models — or helps develop new ones — and provides a framework for you to design, challenge, invent, and change.
Why it Matters The canvas forces you to distill everything you do down to its essence — and create a document that visually explains it. The template works for businesses and start-ups, and also for teams and departments within larger organizations.
All the thought work we’ve put into improve Creative Operations will, at some point, need to be shared within the organization. App developers need investor backing; you need the support of the people around you — especially from your leadership.
Your assignment is to develop a clear and understandable business case for what you’re trying to accomplish. You may even have some top-level managers who have no idea what Creative Ops is — much less that this is an area that needs constant cultivation, improvement, and investment.
The tool to organize all this is a simple template with nine segments.
9 Building Blocks of the Lean Canvas
- Problem: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
- Customer Segments: Who are the customers you are trying to reach?
- Unique Value Proposition: A single statement that sums up your app and why people should buy / use it
- Solution: The solution you are planning.
- Unfair Advantage: What unique advantage do you have over any alternatives?
- Revenue Streams: How will you make money?
- Cost Structure: What will it cost you money?
- Key Metrics: How will you measure the success?
- Channels: What’s the path to reach your customers?
Tip for Creative Ops Your creative output is not your business. Your business is to manage all the activities and processes that enable the creative marketing output to happen. The product is the part that other people see, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Borrowing from Product Management language: Your “business” is to promote your organization’s products, which you have the unique ability to solve, by managing relationships with your staffers and leaders and using your valuable advantages and abilities, to deliver The Product to its intended audience.
2 Canvases to Choose From
The Business Model Canvas is a template developed by Alexander Osterwalder to express the building blocks, or activities, of a start-up or existing organization. It draws focus to operational as well as strategic management and marketing plans.
The Lean Canvas has been proposed by Ash Maurya as a development of the Business Model Generation. It outlines a more problem-focused approach and it targets entrepreneurs and start-up businesses.
There are good arguments on the pros and cons of each. I’ve worked with both, and I think the entrepreneurial focus of Lean Canvas is a better fit for Creative Ops.
What does it look like?
Start-up entrepreneurs and app developers use the business model canvas to frame the activities and building blocks of their idea. Existing businesses (or groups, like ours) can use the canvas to help clarify and understand:
- their lines of business
- the customers each area is reaching
- the unique value proposition offered
- the risks involved
- cost structure
- revenue streams
Our Creative Operations, as an internal organization, is less concerned with revenue, and more focused on expressing its raison d'être and to foster entrepreneurial thinking — like a mini business-with-a-business.
Download: Blank canvas worksheet.
You should be able to fill this out in 20 minutes.
Deliverable: Your Business Model Canvas will help your team, its leaders, and your stakeholders to visualize the Ninja Creative Ops Team that you’re working to build. It charts the undertakings and resources you need to accomplish it.
Bottom Line: The completed business model canvas will help you explain to anybody in your company what you do, who you do it for, and why it’s important.
Resources & Inspiration:
Ash Maurya: How to create your business model in 20 minutes
Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works
by Ash Maurya
Business Model Canvas vs. Lean Canvas
Use the great Lean Stack – an online tool from Spark59 for completing your canvases.
About the Killer Ops series:
How can creative teams increase their Value Proposition? How can they become better strategic partners in the organization? Following the entrepreneurial model of Product Development, creative teams – and organizations – can learn to think and act like a startup, to develop a framework for continuous innovation, improved operations, and greater success.