Alexander Osterwalder's Business Model Generation: A Tool for Startups and Corporations Alike

By August 09, 2010

For the last few weeks, Alexander Osterwalder has been in Silicon Valley to talk about his must-read book, Business Model Generation, and to see what his next step in the area of facilitating business model will be. We talk a l

ot about the fast-changing environment in which companies are evolving and how hard it is for traditional players to grow and change. One of the most painful points is the lack of easy tools to assess the situation and imagine a new paradigm.

This need for fast adaptation strikes a chord in Silicon Valley and its “lean startup” movement led by Eric Ries which tries to democratize the idea of quick iteration for startups and making pivot points to find the business model that best fits them.
Osterwalder’s book deals with business strategy and how to better define and draw business models. The book is full of well-designed concepts created by a team of 470 practitioners, which makes the reading experience painless. But the key asset for the business community is the book's business model canvas, which the creators give for free on their website, encouraging people to use it:

This canvas is very useful for putting complex ideas on paper in a way that no one has addressed completely in the past. All the simple tools we now use in the business strategy area were created decades ago - the BCG matrix or the Porter’s five forces, for example - so it's time for change.

This canvas can be very useful for all kind of businesses, from startups to big corporations, to better define their business model and to imagine new ones.
Osterwalder is working on an iPad application that will let people “play” with a business model with virtual post-its to stick on the business model canvas, while collaborating to create a new one. One cool idea could be to create an online business model library. Another idea could be to play with this app on large touch-screen walls. Is this the next revolution in the boardroom and at Sand Hill Road, where the VCs dwell?

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