As part of an assignment for David Eave’s Digital Government course at the Harvard Kennedy School, I evaluated the customer needs and value proposition offered by Canvas, the learning management system, for graduate students in the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Insight 1: It was immediately clear to me how this tool and process can be used to very quickly generate specific, actionable foci for the design process and identify gaps or shortcomings in the solution fit. I was particularly struck by the potential symmetry between jobs and products/services; pains and pain relievers, and gains and gain creators.

Insight 2: I wonder how you might “nest” multiple value proposition canvases. For example, the use of Canvas creates its own new pain points, in large part due to the teaching teams’ training and use. In the “pains” component I found myself conflating pains “pre-Canvas” and pains created by Canvas.

Insight 3: If I understood and used the tool correctly, the component of the exercise about gain creation provides a way to think about the value-adds beyond the immediate problem-solving. I didn’t include it on the value proposition canvas, but I know that there are institutions that are leveraging Canvas to create spaces for student organizations, as an example. This reminds me of an idea that was discussed in class on September 13: effective platforms can be leveraged by third parties to create additional, unanticipated value that goes beyond the original design purpose.

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