Business Model Canvas Ideation

A Process for Generating New Business Model Ideas

As a result of Covid-19 and new physical distancing requirements, many women and HeForShe advocates who own or lead business and social enterprises have seen this image flash in front of their eyes:

Is this a picture of the future you’ve seen recently? If so, a design tool called the Business Model Canvas and an innovation process called Business Model Canvas Ideation might be of interest.

Use this guide (written in the form of a S.M.A.R.T. job aid) to identify new business models with potential to restore or increase revenue streams and protect organizational health and wellbeing.

S.M.A.R.T. Job Aid


Use the Business Model Canvas tool and Business Model Canvas Ideation process whenever you and your team need to discover innovative ways to improve business results and/or create new revenue streams.


You will need to visit these websites and access their free tools and resources:

Organizations/WebsitesFree Tools/Resources
Design a Better Business
Business Model Canvas, Business Model Ideation, and more
Business Model Canvas, Value Proposition Canvas, Business Model Basics, and more
WRKSHP ( Model Patterns (pdf and online version)
Medium ( Your Business Model Ideation
The Social Impact Foundation
WIIN Learning Platform, Community Forums, and more

These five actions will help you and and your team learn about the the Business Model Canvas and put the Business Model Canvas Ideation process into action.

Step #1: Become familiar with the Business Model and Value Proposition Canvases from Strategyzer.

  • Go to the Strategyzer website and create a free account.
  • Navigate to the Training/Free Training section and find the Business Model Basics course. This informative nine-part series will take one hour to complete.
  • As you go through the nine videos, navigate to the Resources/Tools section of the site. Download and print a copy of the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas. Be sure to examine and bookmark other resources and tools for future use.
  • Signup for the free blog and stay up-to-speed on new books, courses, and content from the team at Strategyzer.

Step #2: Use the Business Model Canvas to sketch the current model of your enterprise as well as the business models of 2-3 competitors.

  • Go to the Design a Better Business website and examine all of the free tools available on this innovation platform.
  • Navigate to Understand/Business Model Canvas and download the directions for conducting a business model mapping exercise with 3-5 members of your team.
  • Rank the performance of each business model you sketch using the seven Checklist questions provided in the directions. These are the same questions presented in the third video of the Business Model Basics course from Strategyzer.
  • Remember to stay focused on your current business model. You will have an opportunity to identify opportunities for improvement in steps 4 and 5 of this process.

Step #3: Assemble a diverse team and prepare for the Business Model Canvas Ideation process.

  • Business model ideation and innovation can take many different forms. In the Business Model Generation book from Strategyzer (pages 142-143), you are provided with five questions to consider, along with a checklist of characteristics for assembling a diverse team of innovative thinkers:
  1. Is our team sufficiently diverse to generate fresh business model ideas? Strategyzer recommends women and men from different departments or functions, of various ages and expertise, and with different levels of seniority and cultural backgrounds.
  2. Which elements of the Business Model Canvas must we study or research before generating business model ideas?
  3. What innovations can we imagine for each building block of the Business Model Canvas?
  4. What criteria will be most important for prioritizing our business model ideas?
  5. What does the complete business model for each shortlisted idea look like?
  • Once membership is confirmed, ask each team member to read a short article on Medium and review a pdf from one of the designers of the Design a Better Business book (Erik van der Pluijm). In addition, be sure all innovation team members have reviewed the free Business Model Basics course from Strategyzer.
    • The article is titled Hack Your Business Model Ideation.
    • The free download from Mr. Pluijm’s website is called Business Model Patterns (there are 100 patterns presented in a pdf or online format).
    • The 1-hour Business Model Basics course from Strategyzer will bring new innovation team members up-to-speed.

Step #4: Use the Business Model Canvas to generate new ideas and prototypes for your business or social enterprise.

  • Go back to the Design A Better Business website and navigate to Ideate/Business Model Ideation.
  • Download and print the directions for this process and use them to generate possibilities and options for your organization.
  • There are four innovation processes outlined in Business Model Ideation. You can choose to use one or all four of these options. They are:
    • Freshwatching
    • Remove the Core
    • Epicenters
    • Follow Patterns
  • The last paragraph in the directions for this process discusses the use of “what if” questions. Alex Osterwalder of Strategyzer addresses the power of “what if” questions on page 140 of Business Model Generation:

“We often have trouble conceiving innovative business models because we are held back in our thinking by the status quo. “What if” questions help us break free from constraints imposed by current models.”

Step #5: Complete the Business Model Canvas Ideation process and challenge your innovation team to come up with six new business models in the next 30 days.

  • Identify the best business model with the most potential to address issues and concerns facing your enterprise.
  • Create an action plan for testing and validating the building blocks of this high-potential business model . Your validation plan should include:
    • Creating a value proposition canvas (start by identifying the priority jobs, pains, and gains of your customers or customer segment).
    • Design of “cheap and fast” experiments to test desirability, feasibility, and viability of your business model and value proposition (reference the Testing Business Ideas book cited on the second page of this guide).
    • Experiments, according to the authors of Testing Business Ideas, are “the means to reduce risk and uncertainty of your business idea.”


The primary result of the Business Model Canvas Ideation process is generation of six new business models for your enterprise within 30 days.

Total Quality Check:

Your work is done as expected when:

  • A diverse business model innovation team has been formed
  • Each member of the innovation team has completed the Business Model Basics course from Strategyzer
  • A business model canvas has been developed for your enterprise
  • Six new business models have been generated
  • A plan for testing the one best business model with the most potential has been created

If you have any questions about the Business Model Canvas Ideation process, please contact Mark Livingston. You can also post a question on the 10X Impact Community Forum (registration is required for this opt-in forum).

Go to the next page for resources and tools related to the subject of business model innovation. We also provide links to specific areas of the WIIN Learning Platform which dive deeper into this subject. As well, we share the Business Model and Value Proposition Canvases of The Social Impact Foundation.

Published by Mark Livingston

Coach Mark is a Certified Pickleball Coach, Teaching Professional, Rating Specialist, and Director of an IPTPA Training and Testing Center. Learn more at

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