Business Model Canvas v Doblin’s Ten Types of Innovation

I was asked to join a panel a few months ago which followed a talk by a presenter who explained how to use the Business Model Canvas to an audience of local startups and entrepreneurs.

I like the business model canvas and have used it on numerous occasions over the last 5+ years in corporate innovation workshops and when helping clients rethink their strategy.

However, from their questions, this particular audience seemed to be seeking something more than just a tool to evaluate their business model. For many of them, their immediate focus seemed to be on how to create a breakthrough new product and service innovation, rather than work on the details of their business model which would come later. Few seemed to be exploring whether a business model innovation would be the foundation of their success at this stage.

I’m not suggesting that the Business Model Canvas is just for innovating business models; I’ve used it on numerous occasions to help focus in on the innovation of the value proposition. The authors of the book Business Model Generation which explains how to use the canvas followed up that book a few years ago with an equally useful and complimentary book called Value Proposition Design, which provides more specific tools to help with product and service innovation.

However, in addition to recommending the book Value Proposition Design, I also suggested to the audience that they also read Doblin’s Ten Types of Innovation.

Whilst it seems to me that Doblin’s Ten Types of Innovation is less well known than the Business Model Canvas, it does have a solid 30+ year’s experience underpinning it.

I recently produced a simple slide that visually compared and contrasted the Business Model Canvas’s 9 core components of a business model with Doblin’s ten types of innovation. To assist in the comparison, I have rearranged the boxes from both models so that they align better, but the content of the boxes remains unchanged.

When represented in this way, the similarities and differences between the two methods become a little more evident.

What I have found useful about Doblin’s method, which I recommended to the audience, is that the book it provides a list of over 100 examples of tried and tested innovation techniques, grouped under their ten types of innovation. For anyone struggling to come up with ideas on how to innovate, this list is a great way to stimulate your thinking.

Which is Best?

When people ask me which is better, or which I prefer, the Business Model Canvas or Doblin, I normally respond “both”.

Both are useful in their own right when used in the right context. Both are also complementary to each other in that they can provide different perspectives on the part of your business under consideration. I often find that creating different perspectives on a question or a problem that you are trying to solve is the key to generating new insights and discovering new solutions.

I help organisations navigate strategic change using holistic visual tools & frameworks.

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