Onboard Executives With the Business Model Canvas

Added on by Benson Garner.

It's exciting to introduce new executives into the leadership team, but it can also be a challenge to bring them up to speed with the moving parts of your organization's strategy and operations. In this post we share how three organizations used the Business Model Canvas to make the task of onboarding new executives quick, easy, and painless for everybody involved. 

The Business Model Canvas is a powerful visual tool--I like to consider it as a sort of "strategic blueprint". In a previous post I outlined 14 ways to apply the Business Model Canvas. At Strategyzer, we love when new applications of the Canvas allows a team to clearly state how their business creates, delivers, and captures value. I was surprised to learn that some companies were using the canvas to onboard new executives to the leadership team. It's great to see our initial list of 14 grow to include this unique use case.

Take a look at the examples below.

Executive Onboarding w/the Business Model Canvas

A clear line of sight into a large organization 
We were running an innovation workshop for one of the biggest conglomerates in Latin America. The company was undergoing a large turnaround initiative. The workshop was attended by 20 people from all over the company, including the newly hired CEO who was two days into his new role. Throughout the workshop, the group mapped out a collection of existing and potentially new business models. This was the CEO's first introduction to the company's inner workings. The Canvas allowed him to clearly see all of the strengths and weaknesses of each model in a very short amount of time. The CEO mentioned that he loved the approach because it was an excellent process for him to immediately understand the business. The one workshop gave him a clear line of sight into the organization.

Communicate high level strategic goals next to product specifics
Last year I had a similar experience with a client. I was doing a three day long business model and value proposition design workshop with a large US non-profit in the Midwest. The initial project was to work through the organization's core product with a small team that was transitioning between leaders. The organization's new VP of Product also happened to be in attendance, and he was immediately drawn to the tools. He liked how the Canvas made it easy to relate some of the specifics of product management back to the company's higher level strategic goals. He also knew that the organization was undergoing a lot of executive leadership turnover as a result of retirement in addition to a major acquisition. The Business Model Canvas presented a way to get the new leadership team up to speed with each of the company's product strategies at an upcoming annual product meeting. 

A shared perspective on the business
In another instance, a senior executive for one of the world's largest consumer goods companies took on the role of CFO for its Latin and European regions. The new CFO used the Canvas to better understand the type of business model he was working with. The tool worked so well in helping him understand the company's business model that he pushed the CEO to have the entire senior team in the region go through the same exercise. The workshop that followed allowed the senior team to have a unified perspective on the company's business model.

Final Thoughts

In this post we described different scenarios where companies used the Business Model Canvas as an onboarding and alignment tool. We specifically focused on bringing new executives up to speed but the tool can work equally well for driving alignment around a company's business model and overall strategy at any level of the organization. Further, other visual tools can work equally well in the context of onboarding. For example the Value Proposition Canvas is a phenomenal tool for helping product, sales, and marketing teams better understand their customer and how the company creates value for them.  

What examples do you have of using the Canvas to create strategic alignment with new executives or employees? Let us know in the comments below!