COVID-19 has shown (the business world) that we are living in times that are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (aka VUCA).
Before the crisis hit, I used the Business Model Canvas regularly to think through the different aspects of novel product or service ideas. It’s one of the tools I pull out in almost every client workshop and for my MBA thesis (on Business Model Innovation).
Swiss business thinker and writer Alex Osterwalder has done me (and millions of other people) a significant service through his research, especially by creating the Business Model Canvas.
But lately, it feels a bit incomplete.
When I entered the new decade (basking in a peaceful gong bath, I might add) I couldn’t imagine that entire nations would go under lock-down, almost completely shutting down their economies and allowing only essential businesses to operate.
And while these types of black swan events are rare, they show us that the unthinkable can happen anytime. Only in hindsight did they seem inevitable (and should have been prepared for).
In the situation we are right now we have, simply put, two options:
a) Weather the storm and hope things go back to the way things were before COVID-19 (including the normalization of consumer demand and consumers reverting to pre-COVID-19 behaviors).
b) Recognize that what we are looking at now is a new beginning. A blank canvas where can redesign our business models, re-adjust our products and services, and ensure that when the next major crisis hits, we fall into the category of essential business rather than a nice-to-have one (like the second Cinnamon Roll Frappuccino Blended Coffee)
If you choose the latter option, I’ve re-designed the Business Model Canvas to support you in your planning (thanks to Alex Osterwalder for coming up with the original framework in the first place).
A few quick notes on how to use the Business Model Canvas — VUCA edition:
- This edition can be used as a standalone if you are familiar with the Business Model Canvas.
- If not, I advise to reference the descriptions of the original version, which you can find here.
- If you are operating in multiple markets/ have a diverse set of products/ services, this thought process should be done individually for each geography/ product/ service.
You can download a printable A3 version here.