Business Model Generation

The book by the name Business Model Generation is a very recent and welcome entry to the literature on business strategy and planning.

The book itself is an interesting and appealing artifact.  It has the look and feel of a craft book, with elegant paper, innovative design elements, and apparently hand-bound signatures.  It has almost 500 practitioner contributors, and is oozing practicality to go along with the feeling of being a labor of love.

The basic content is structured around a consistent framework (metamodel) for business models, which includes sections for customer segments, key partners, value propositions, revenue streams, cost factors, resources, activities, segment relations and chananels.  This is combined with anotherframework that calls out some of the currently hot busness models, such as the long tail, freemium, etc.  These two frameworks are then used together to analyze a significant number of actual businesses, such as Google, Apple, etc.  This is still further refined by a number of techniques, such as design perspective, storytelling, prototyping, visualization, SWOT and others, and intersected with discussions of managing multiple business models and evolving business models over time.

Some small criticism include the following:

  • Despite its elegance, the fine print in many parts of the book make it a little less elegant than it otherwise could have been.
  • The focus on segment rather than customer takes a lot of the social aspect off the table.  It feels intimate on the design side, but strangely arms-length with respect to the needs, desires, and other feelings at the personal level.
  • There is short shrift given to the overall business situation, environment or marketplace.  There is no strong consideration of competitors.  It is an antidote to things like Porter's 5 forces, which are all negative. 

Don't plan to use this by itself -- I never would.  But it's a good foundation or addition to any business plnning effort.  I wish I'd had it when planning a startup recently.