Value Proposition & Business Model Design

In the scope of my research, I indicated that I was interested in investigating interventions which would be able to be sustained long enough to achieve the impact they were designed for.

Whilst I developed a portfolio of concepts at a high level, I was filtering ideas through a rubric of Feasible, Desirable and Viable. I used value proposition design, and the lean canvas to explore and shape the ideas, in order to quickly assess them. I did this as a solo activity, rapidly working through the canvases and exploring a variety of different ways in which options could be made sustainable - naturally this would be a much more extensive process if I decided to take an idea forward.

Key Insights

1. Back of the napkin

I find the lean canvas and value proposition canvas really useful strategic design methods, to rapidly assess an idea. Whilst they can feel very light on rigour on a first pass, over time I have found they are very good sensing tools to quickly establish what scale an idea would need to reach to become financially viable - as a business, charity or otherwise.

This process rapidly got me to the conclusion that there was multiple potential revenue models for the Photo Monitoring and Capacity Building concepts, and that it would be possible to explore novel social enterprise models which sought to reinvest profits back into the conservation sector.

2. Valuable ≠ Sustainable

Whilst the aforementioned ideas surfaced as financially viable (at initial exploration), there were several which were discarded as I couldn’t see a short term path to financial viability. My experience with the environmental sector is that there is extreme risk aversion to entrepreneurial approaches, which is throttling the ability for technical and socio-cultural interventions to emerge.

So whilst filtering ideas for their desirability and feasibility to identify value, it was a stark reminder that most ideas will fail to have a positive impact as they will not be sustainable over time without a sound model which makes them viable.

3. Supporting Actions

As some of the ideas emerged, I noticed how some could break ground for others to follow.

For example, the third concept - a simple workshop resource - would work as an excellent way for groups to get to know about the capacity building initiative, or discover the photo monitoring tool.

Product service systems (PSS) were introduced in Assistant Professor Anna Meroni’s 2008 work on Strategic Design [44], as a mix of products, services, communication and people. Taking this provocation, it seems that the portfolio of concepts instead of being seen as discrete and individual, has the potential to evolve into a PSS.

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