Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, Product Journey

Where to start and how to transition between various innovation methodologies depends on where a product sits along its product lifecycle.

Continuous innovation

Innovation should happen at every stage of the product lifecycle journey. In Dual Transformation a clear separation is made between repositioning today’s core business (transformation A) and creating the new (transformation B).

Graphic from

Repositioning the core sort of bundles McKinsey’s Horizons 1 and 2, where it is mainly about defending and improving current products as well as extending value propositions, entering adjacent markets and/or targeting new customers. Creating the new can somewhat be mapped to McKinsey’s Horizon 3, which is what most people typically associate innovation with. Both differ in a number of ways. The creation of a new product often starts with a vision of making customers’ lives easier in one way or another. At the early stages there is no multi disciplinary team, no customer, no solution or no business model, just a passionate entrepreneur with a bunch of assumptions yet to be validated. When repositioning the core business, there is an established team with a good understanding of the business model and access to current customers. Existing products have revenue targets to meet and there is a risk of (subconsciously) sabotaging new, potentially competing ideas, so I agree that it is sensible to separate both.


All products should start with empathy, exploring the problem space to better understand who the customers are, what they say, do, think and feel or what the functional, emotional and social facets for which they will hire the product are (check-out Competing Against Luck). Empathy is the most important aspect to nail and not just when creating a new product, even existing products must maintain customer empathy to be able to react to changes in the market and/or customers’ lives.

I think the empathy map image is dSchool’s and the Jobs-to-be-done image is from Zbigniew Gecis


All insights are assumptions until they are validated and most popular innovation methodologies now strongly advocate to test using small experiments. Most teams now luckily also document their product vision in some variation of the Business Model Canvas instead of the traditional long and boring business plan. Ash Maurya made a great visual showing how a product can go from a plan A to a plan that works by gradually validating aspects of the business model (I’d recommend his Running Lean and Scaling Lean books).From Ash Maurya’s Running Lean

Image from Ash Maurya

There are a number of ways to prioritise assumptions and the simple question of “which part of the business model, if not true, would make our entire product vision collapse?” is a really good guide. Experiments should always have clear purpose of validating an assumption with AAA metrics (actionable, accessible and auditable) and never start to “just see what happens” because innovator bias will always turn whatever happened into an excuse or even a success.


Early on in the innovation funnel the main focus is on learning from customers, co-create a product customers really want. Later the focus shifts to testing and tuning the customer growth engine, to see if the target can be reached by measuring things like Dave McClure’s “Pirate Metrics”, i.e. customer acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue. Scaling applies to new products, but changes to existing products should also be tested on a minor subset of the customer base first.

From Ash Maurya’s Scaling Lean

The Product Journey?

Let’s start by acknowledging that customers don’t care which methodologies are used to create products that make their lives easier, so just use whatever tools, techniques or templates that work for you. I thought I’d use this post to share (and get some feedback) on an adaptation of the Lean Canvas and Business Model Canvas I’ve been tinkering with.

Why another canvas?

Well, I believe we should always question whether something really adds value. Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas has been a great invention because it allows everyone to describe and share their product vision on a single page. I have never been a big fan of the Value Proposition Canvas mainly because it relies on being a separate canvas. Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas is (for me) a step in the right direction as it is a lot more customer-centric with some really valuable adaptations.

I have often noticed people struggling to either complete (or just add meaningless) content to some aspects of the canvas. This raised a red flag and here I am proposing to replace these aspects with things that can add more value to the product one-pager.

The “business model” and not the “solution” is the product, and continuous innovation means a product is on a continuous journey, so I decided to call this new business model adaptation the “Product Journey”.

Our adaptation of the Lean Canvas which in turn was an based on Business Model Canvas

Let’s go through the canvas:

I found that sticking with the same number of boxes as the Business Model Canvas (just like the Lean Canvas did) makes perfect sense because it is so widespread now and I found myself just sticking post-its on top of the title to re-purpose the boxes. I also wanted to clearly credit Alex Osterwalder and Ash Maurya.

Again, this is not a better Business Model Canvas or a better Lean Canvas, it’s just a different adaption that makes sense to me to describe a product on a single page. Thoughts?