As Enterprise Architects we drive to maximize value in our companies. With most EA teams residing within an IT area under a CIO we can find ourselves bogged down by the technology weighing down on decisions. The challenge with that is one of context. Without understanding “Why” we are solving a problem will most certainly inhibit the value in which is achieved.
So the question is, do we really know our business before we make architecture decisions? What tools do we use or don’t use to understand the business model?
I was happy to see Alexander Osterwalder publish on the Harvard Business Review blog a post titled, “A Better Way to Think About Your Business Model”. Certainly take a look at this. His post provides some high-level information on why it’s important to use the model. If you find value in the model as I do, you will want to pick up his book, Business Model Generation. Personally I like the hard copy best given it’s so visual. There is also an iPad app that you can get that works really well too. You can find it in the Apple App Store here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/business-model-toolbox/id431605371?mt=8
As I eluded to above, I have found a lot of value in this tool. It is one that I've been using for quite some time now. It’s a brilliant model that helps you dissect what your business is. The data itself isn’t rocket science. It’s the conversation that it triggers which drives the value. I often apply this in workshop like sessions rather than one off data collecting exercises.
WARNING: While it can allude to, the Business Model Canvas does not tell you why your business has been built in the fashion it has. This is within strategy oriented methods and models.
The business model canvas can really help you to understand your business. What is nice about it is that the questions can be applied at multiple levels. You can apply it at a corporate level or apply it to a business unit.
As an example of this, I applied it to an already established enterprise architecture organization. I used the model to assess the organization on its “health”. Asking those business oriented questions forces us to think as if we were a business unit, and that’s not a bad thing. The results were quite amazing because it got the right level of conversation and thinking going to evolve the overall value proposition.
About the Business Model Canvas
If your not familiar with the Business Model Canvas below is a two minute overview of the Business Model Canvas, a tool for visionaries, game changers, and challengers. The business model canvas — as opposed to the traditional, intricate business plan — helps organizations conduct structured, tangible, and strategic conversations around new businesses or existing ones. Leading global companies like GE, P&G, and Nestlé use the canvas to manage strategy or create new growth engines, while start-ups use it in their search for the right business model. The canvas's main objective is to help companies move beyond product-centric thinking and towards business model thinking.
Find out more at http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com