Think Like a Business Owner

Thinking like a business owner is a great way to add value to an organization and get noticed by senior leaders.  An owner understands how the company makes money and the upstream and downstream impacts of their decisions.  Two tools you can use to improve your “ownership” skills are the business model canvas and the Kano diagram.

Business Model Canvas

Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur described the canvas in their seminal work Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers.

An organization’s business model can be explained in nine basic building blocks. Your customer segments.  Your value proposition for each segment.  Your channels to reach each customer.  The customer relationships you establish.  The revenue streams you generate.  The key resources and key activities you need to create value.  The key partners, and the cost structure of the business model.  Taken together you create the business model canvas – a visual tool that helps sketch out how you create, deliver, and capture value.

Use index cards, or sticky notes to describe your business in simple words.  Don’t use bullet points.  Use the following questions to create a draft canvas in 10 – 15 minutes:

  1. Who are your most important customers? (Customer Segment)
  2. What value do you deliver to them today? (Value Proposition)
  3. How to you reach your customers today? (Distribution Channel)
  4. What type of relationship do you have with your primary customers? (Customer Relationship)
  5. How do customers pay you? (Revenue Streams)
  6. What activities help you deliver value to customers? (Key Activities)
  7. What resources are needed to deliver value to customers? (Key Resources)
  8. Who are your key suppliers or partners? (Key Partners)
  9. What costs drive your business? (Cost Structure)

After completing your initial draft, share with peers and your manager to get additional insight, and refine the canvas.  Use the canvas to identify ways to improve the performance of your department.

Kano Diagram

Not all needs are the same.  A Japanese quality guru Dr. Noriaki Kano, a professor of quality management at the Tokyo University of Science, developed a framework for identifying four different types of needs.

On the vertical axis is the extent to which the user is satisfied with the experience or product.  On the horizontal axis it the extent to which your product or service delivers on a particular need.

Must-have needs are things your product or service must have, or the customer will not buy.  Linear needs are ones that the customer always wants more of or less of.  Lower price or more services are examples.  Latent needs are things customers don’t know they want, but value when they get them.  The original minivan is a famous example.  No one ever described this type of car, but families loved it when Chrysler introduced them in 1983.  Finally, indifferent needs are ones that don’t necessarily impress the customer or impact their buying decision.

Take time to interview customers and see if you can identify ten must-have, linear, and latent needs.  Work with colleagues to determine which are most important.

Bottom Line

Invest the time to better understand the needs of current and potential customer.  Then use that knowledge to adapt your business model to deliver new value for both customers and your organization.

Want more Career and Leadership Advice?

Develop: 7 Practical Tools to Take Charge of Your Career

Stay up to date on career and leadership content, book news, and events.

Learn more about having ted speak to your organization

Share This Post

More From The Blog...

The 3-Year Job Cycle

I recently caught up with the 2015 Class of my human resources leadership development program.  After sharing updates on engagements, marriages, children, and current living

Read More »