I thoroughly enjoyed filling in the customer profile template and the value map template. It prompted me to do some reflection on what it is that I want as a student, and since the templates break things into different components, the thought process went deeper and more systematic.

Initially I started creating my customer profile simply as a “student”. Soon enough, I realized that “student” was too broad a category; people of all backgrounds and ages can be students, and the jobs, pains and gains descriptions thus generated might be too diverse and scattered to be of genuine value. So I picked a narrower segment: Harvard Kennedy School students. It remained a very diverse segment, but at least it helped me focus and come up with more tangible descriptions of jobs etc. I think carefully selecting a customer segment is essential for this exercise to be meaningful.

Secondly, once I finished analyzing the different aspects of Canvas as a value proposition, I realized that while it does offer a wide range of beneficial functions, it satisfies only a small portion of my needs as a HKS student. Nonetheless, I have always found Canvas an incredibly useful tool in my academic life, and I wish I had access to Canvas or a similar platform when I was an undergraduate. It goes to show that a product or a service really does not have to satisfy a long list of customer needs in order to be considered valuable. By meeting some of my most pressing needs as a student here, Canvas has proven extremely important to me already.

Finally, when I looked at the gain creators and pain relievers of Canvas, I believed they would be good fit for Harvard Kennedy School students but also a lot more. I trust students in other academic institutions — perhaps even individuals in other industries — would find Canvas a highly convenient tool. In other words, Canvas’ potential customer base is large, and Canvas should seek to connect with them, if not already. Overall, this seems to me an iterative process: understanding your customers will help you come up with the right value proposition, and understanding your value proposition will then potentially help you identify more customers.