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on 9 November 2010
Content: Understanding the relationships between the nine key principles - customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partnerships and cost structure - enables one to figure out fairly fast how and why businesses function the way they do. Also, at a very early stage, it becomes clear what is not working in ones own business as well as others. The nine principles or, key elements, can all be explained on one piece of paper, and that is where design thinking comes in. Instead of writing long, arcane and stuffy business plans, this is what one ought to do - figure it all out on one piece of paper first. That said, there are as many permutations and combinations of the nine elements. The authors give examples of how the business models for Google, Apple iPod, etc. work - very, very insightful!

Design: The design of the book has surely got to be one of its greatest plusses - it is a joy to behold. The horizontal format fits naturally in ones hands. The drawings, diagrams, paper, typeface, colours, printing, binding - everything has been carefully thought out, so much so that the design motivates one to learn faster and enjoy the process. Most business plan books are excruciatingly boring and painful to read. The way this book has been designed makes it fast and easy to understand fundamental business processes. Other business books ought to take their lead from this one.

Presentation & Production: The book was co-created by 470 participants from 45 countries. It just goes to show how much time and consideration has been invested in planning the book. It shows in the way the book has been produced. Business Model Generation is an aesthetic delight, making the book memorable and inspiring.

Price: Amazon gave me an almost 50% discount, making the book all the more attractive!

The prospective buyer may consider downloading an excellent free PDF from SlideShare to get an insight into the book before ordering it: [...]

This book really makes me smile! I get so much pleasure and knowledge out of it! "
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on 2 March 2011
There are not many books that present clear and compelling ideas in a graphically engaging format, with a wealth of real-world examples. This is one of the few.
I come from an enterprise architecture background and I have found in this book a practical and down-to-earth modelling approach for Business Architecture.
At last!
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This is a remarkable triumph of visual design. I don't think I've ever seen a book like it before.

I have some criticisms about how easy it is to read and the fact that the content is more style over substance. For one thing, to create space for all the funky images, the words are in a small font. I was OK but I know that some people will struggle.

I like the idea of the one page Business Model Canvas which is described as "a shared language for describing, visualising, assessing and changing business models." It looks very useful to summarise your existing business model and for moving towards better ways to create, deliver and capture value.

The Business Model Generation Canvas has nine elements:
1 Customer segments
2 Value propositions
3 Channels
4 Customer relationships
5 Revenue streams
6 Key resources
7 Key activities
8 Key partnerships
9 Cost structure

As you can see, it is a tight summary of a business with a balance between external and internal factors. Business models are important because they are the means to deliver your differentiation strategy. Without a coherent plan, any differentiation is likely to be shallow. The exercise of filling in the Business Model Canvas will help you to focus on the few things of business model design that matter although you need to have thought through your differentiation strategy first.

Beyond the the Business Model canvas, I was disappointed. Because the book looks so different and special, I was expecting the content to match. But it didn't. I thought it was pretty superficial. It is a good introduction to thinking about business design although it assumes that's the answer you want rather than giving you a diagnostic to establish whether business design lies at the heart of your business issues. I'd have liked to have seen more consideration of the value proposition and how it is different from competitors now and what they are likely to develop in the future. The authors have since written another book to address this issue but again, I was disappointed.

About my book reviews - I aim to be a tough reviewer because the main cost of a book is not the money to buy it but the time needed to read it and absorb the key messages. 4 stars means this is a good to very good book.

This review first appeared on my Differentiate Your Business blog in August 2011.
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on 9 October 2014
Easy to read. Easy to understand. Get's everyone involved in the business planning process and gives the body of a workable business plan in order to start drilling into the details. You can save yourself a lot of money and time in feasibility testing by adapting some of the methods of this book. It's not MBA level business planning, but let's face it, that kind of expertise is more about Fortune 500 business expansion than creating a start-up or even expanding an existing service.

A lot of business colleges would be broke if the Business Model Generation's down-to-earth, collaborative techniques were taught in basic business classes. As it stands now I am wondering what I wasted my money on in getting my MBA after reading this.
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"Then He said, 'To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it?'" -- Mark 4:30 (NKJV)

You've probably heard the old saying that a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Well, this book has more illustrations, sketches, design flourishes, and graphic displays in it than pages so you can probably imagine how much content it covers. In addition to sharing ideas about business model generation, you'll learn about business strategy, change processes, story telling, design, and creativity . . . among other subjects covered in a few paragraphs or pages. If you haven't read many of the books about business innovation that have come out in the last ten years, you can just use this one to get a brief summary of the key ideas in each of those areas. So your cost per subject is almost nothing. What a bargain!

If you get bored easily, you will like this book. It covers most subjects in almost no space. By using small type, a lot of information is concentrated onto just a few pages.

A lot of my graduate business students tell me that they like books that teach them a lot of the technical terms that business people use. Business Model Generation is excellent for that purpose. It's jammed full of C-level business jargon and lots of flow diagrams of the sort that technology managers and engineers love to use.

So, what is a business model? "A business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value." Got that? "This concept can be a shared language that allows you to easily describe and manipulate business models to create new strategic alternatives."

If that isn't clear to you, the authors offer nine building blocks that give you the whole picture:

1. Customer Segments
2. Value Propositions
3. Channels
4. Customer Relationships
5. Revenue Streams
6. Key Resources
7. Key Activities
8. Key Partnerships
9. Cost Structure

Each of these nine elements is conveniently broken down into still more subsegments of what to consider.

Fans of Michael Porter's work on competitive strategy will note the strong resemblances between this approach and his pioneering work of 30 years ago. But Professor Porter doesn't include as many graphics and his examples are much longer and more detailed. If you want to learn more about advantaged value chains, Professor Porter's work may be more helpful to you.

The book similarly borrows deeply from 20 other standard business and strategy references.

Who is the ideal reader for this book? I think it's someone who hasn't been introduced to business models before and has just been asked to work on developing one at work. The book seems to be aimed at people without much business education such as technologists and designers.

If you are such a person, be sure to take notes on where to find the examples you want to refer to. There's no index to the book and you'll be thumbing through all the pages to find what you are looking for.

The approach emphasizes a small group of people doing the business model generation for a business or a company. That's pretty typical of a venture being formed (venture capitalists always want to know what the business model is), new ventures, and smaller enterprises that need to make a big change in direction.

The recommended approach is 180 degrees away from what many business model innovating companies do which is to encourage stakeholders and employees to continually develop low-key, inexpensive experiments and then to expand the successes.

I always find books such as this one more helpful when they teach me about businesses I've never studied before. So if you don't know about the Swiss private bank, Pictet, France Telecom, KPN, Vodafone, Bharti Airtel, Siemens, book publishers, LEGO, Metro in Stockholm, Google, game console makers, Apple, Flickr, Red Hat, Skype, REGA, Gillette, P&G, Glaxo SmithKline, InnoCentive, Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo, you'll get some new knowledge. You may find that you'll have to do more homework on your own in many cases. Most of the references are 75 words or less.

The book was co-produced by hundreds of contributors. It shows. There's a lot here. Much of it is from the service provider perspective (consultants, design companies, and researchers), but you can probably get a sense of who you want to hire by reading this book if you find that you cannot implement what it tells you by yourself.

Over the last 35 years, I have interviewed hundreds of successful executives who created business model innovations that changed their industries in major ways. I must comment that this book is a lot more complicated than what those practitioners think about and do. So it's possible that this book is capturing an emerging practice that will obsolete how all business model innovation is done. But I don't think I've ever met anyone who did it this way. Most of these practices are normally applied to developing new products, redesigning old products, to repositioning offerings, and adjusting the value chain.
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on 8 February 2011
Very simply: This book has given me tools to understand, analyze, question and develop business models. It provided me a simple framework to think and talk about business models for my ideas, helping me to identify the critical parts of a model.
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on 27 January 2012
Working in innovation a lot, anything on business model innovation is of interest, and it is a hot topic. It is also a meaty topic due to the complexity of the challenge. I thought the book had a good template for business models (there are quite a lot, generally as thoughtful), but after that it was a collection of stories about other business models (useful) some general chitchat about other management tools and how they fit, and some thoughts on tools to use in addressing some of the challenges - all well presented. The stories of other business models are certainly helpful, but if you just read the business model canvas description (which is after all the key tool in the book) you would be hard pressed to work out which company it refers to. But the real problem is the "how do I explore/ come up with a new business model" question is completely in the dark, its one of those black box "then a miracle happens" type moments.

So in the end it singularly fails to address the big question of how anyone actually comes up with the insight or moment of intuition which is at the heart of the question. Secondly it also fails to be clear on a process to explore the question - so as I approach the daunting set of questions, how do I connect the thoughts I have, how do I drive from one question to the implications in another?

My overall sense is it provides a useful template, some good stories and techniques, but fails in what I saw as its primary task - providing people with a handy way to think through a complex challenge. It doesn't need (and shouldn't give) a lock down approach, but it should give guidance about a flow, and some recognition of how to get to the moment of insight.
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on 9 June 2015
The consequence of revolutionizing business planning, is that a lot of funders (VC’s and banks) for potential and existing entrepreneurs use his ‘canvas’ and ‘building blocks’ and require a business model according to his concept. This means from new ‘window cleaner’ to new ‘engineering’ companies and everything in between. I have watched most of his presentations on YouTube and liked it to the extent that I bought the books for in one of his presentations he states that business plans had too much text, even though humans are mainly visual, and I totally agree. Then I bought the books and found out that only some high lights in his books were visual and the rest is in very tiny small letters!
Just like the earlier commentator: "I think this is an interesting book. But the designers made a colossal error in design. The text fonts are very, very small. I have older eyes and use reading glasses, and with them I can read almost anything. But this book is really painful."
It is a disaster for anybody who is slightly dyslectic or farsighted. It is meant for his fellow academic followers but not as a handbook for starters unless you are a great reader with owl eyes. Too much small text and also nowadays most young people communicate over internet and phone but have a hard time reading long texts and will have a hard time focusing on reading this book. So for me the book designers sat behind their desk, did not come out of their office and talk to potential readers. Since Alex and his partners are also responsible for the book design: they preach one thing and do another.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 January 2011
A different kind of business world calls for a different kind of business manual, and that's what Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur have achieved in their New Age guide to contemporary business modeling. Abetted by their "Business Model Innovation Hub" - with 470 online collaborators in 45 countries - Osterwalder and Pigneur practiced what they preached when they applied their modeling concepts to the book's production. And the concepts are not just theories: major companies such as IBM and Ericsson are converts to the "Business Model Canvas," a low-tech template for brainstorming and visualizing corporate roles and processes. The book's breezy, colorful format, replete with photos, drawings, charts and graphics, belies its intensely researched and reality-grounded content. A big sheet of paper and a slew of Post-it notes are all you need to get started; that, and the combined creativity, intellect and persistence your team brings to the project. getAbstract heartily recommends this comprehensive, pictorial handbook to entrepreneurs and business leaders looking to create or redesign their business models.
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on 21 November 2010
Alexander Ostervalder and Yves Pigneur takes a unconventional step towards modelling business processes.

The main idea of the book can be adapted in few hours and can be taken in to use immediately. Plentiful examples are described in a clear and idea emphasing way so there are not much of an regular business jargon with it. These examples gives you really lots of ideas how to make things differently and therefore guide the reader or the user of the model towards archicectural innovation Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation(p:498) or value innovation Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

I find the represented consept of analyzing busines model useful regardless the intent of the business. Wether you are going for non-profit services or aiming for a dominance in technology for a spesific market. The way of thinking lets you concentrate for the relevant: Customer and the value mechanism.

The book is written (or drawn) in such way that it may fit better for people who have right brain dominating their thinking. Ideas, wide consepts, the big picture etc... Not concentrating on details.

Hope that this reviev gives something for someone who is thinking the purchasement of this book. -My comment for that is: "It is worth for every penny."

Ilari Graf
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