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Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

In recent years, the word “innovation” has been inflected for all cases. It also appears quite often in some strategic documents of the European Union. It seems that it has become something fashionable. Such approach is the result of popular belief that a competitive advantage is achieved due to implemented innovations. It is crucial in view of the fact that some sources of the former advantages (e.g. primary commodities) will run out thus it is necessary to seek new solutions, which are essential for further economic development.

It is enough regarding the state’s point of view but we should also take into consideration what it means for a man. A specific knowledge is required if you consider the idea of developing a business plan in a systematic manner, even if sometimes it is rather revolutionary.

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers was written by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur employing the analysis of the experiences of 470 members of the Business Model Innovation Hub. For many years Alexander Osterwalder PhD has been an advisor on innovating business models, whereas Yves Pigneur is a professor of MIS at the University of Lausanne.

In their guide, they not only explain how to design a business model of your own organization but they also present many techniques for creating innovation. The authors presume that owing to the contained information, the reader will be able to create an innovative business model. It is worth mentioning that by any activity of innovation, the authors mean the one which leads to the creation of something that could replace many obsolete solutions.

The publication is divided into five parts. The first part discusses the pattern of a business model, which is a tool for the description, analysis and design of all business models. Furthermore, it contains many examples of what could be found in them. According to the authors, one sheet of paper is enough to describe a business model.

The second part presents the schemas of creating business models compiled on the basis of the experts’ opinions. They are to prove that each business model may evolve in time and it is adapted for various activities. Many examples of business models of popular brands were presented in the paper.

In the next section, the reader is informed what techniques can be used to support the formation of business models and creating new ideas, such as brainstorm, visualization and inventing prototypes.

Thereafter, the fourth part determines how to verify your strategy in the view of the business model pattern. It permits to question or rewrite your assumptions. The evaluation of many models makes it possible to adapt them to the new situation. It is also presented how to do a SWOT analysis of a specific model.

In the fifth part, the reader learns about the basic process of designing innovative business models by means of combining all concepts, techniques and tools discussed in the book. The final chapter provides an overview of issues which require a better understanding in the future.

The authors present an interesting idea on how to develop and present their own business model. In my opinion, they mainly focus on reducing and simplifying all rules for writing a good business plan. A fledgling entrepreneur has to restrict his ideas to one sheet of paper. This kind of challenge is especially useful for a person who wants to start his own business or introduces a new product, this is the main advantage of this book.

Nonetheless, there are also some shortcomings. The book is quite expensive while in fact it has very little content. Many proposed solutions are difficult to be put into practice after reading only this one book. Some of them are extremely unclear, which gives impression that there are too many topics and little description of them at the same time. It seems to be the same when we take numerous examples into consideration. It is even more disappointing as the introduction promises more practice than theory.

Besides, frequent referring to innovative business model is at least thought-provoking. It seems that the proposed solutions can be used in the daily activity of many companies, even if they do not have much to do with innovations (unless you understand them narrowly) and it is done with the same efficiency. The description is also confusing since it gives impression that the concept of innovation is limited exclusively to the IT industry.

However, the guidebook is visually very attractive. From my point of view, it was like a flashback to the childhood when books were oriented horizontally, not vertically and when pictures were even more important than the content. This kind of arrangement has its justification in the fact that the used schemes require more space. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to read the text, even if it is arranged in columns. What is more, there are a few black pages with white text. However, the book is solidly constructed, the quality of its paper is fine and it seems to be durable.

If you have an idea of your own business or you would like to develop your business activity, the model proposed in the book may be helpful. It enables you to organize your ideas, plan how to implement it and select the most important inspirations. Moreover, creating such a model takes little time in contrary to a business plan or a strategy. Hence, it is possible to construct a wide range of business models and select only those which appear to have the greatest chance of success.

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