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University of Virginia

Innovating with the Business Model Canvas

University of Virginia via Coursera


Have you ever gotten really excited about reading or writing a business plan? You might have started out excited, but I’m going to bet you didn’t stay that way. Let’s be honest- business plans are boring and mostly ignored.

The beauty of the one-page Business Model Canvas is that it drives meaningful focus. It helps us organize our ideas and have better discussions by forcing specificity and bringing linkages between key business drivers to the foreground. Innovation requires one hand being very focused on a fundamental need or problem while the other hand quickly tests different solutions. For this, the Business Model Canvas is very innovation friendly: It's a lot easier to tweak the model and try things with something that's sitting on a single page

In this course, developed at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and taught by top-ranked faculty, you’ll learn key tools from the worlds of design thinking and Lean Startup to approach the Canvas with thoughtfulness, focus, and above all a test-driven approach to business model innovation.


  • Focusing for Profitability and Growth
    • How do you avoid the distractions that keep companies from innovating their way to organic growth? The best recipe is a hyper focus on finding product/market fit and scaling it. Fortunately, the Canvas is a great way to create that focus. We’ll start the course by looking at the jobs you do for customers and how your particular propositions drive revenue. We’ll also look at how you link those with focused customer journeys to keep these customer-centric linkages healthy and growing.
  • How do you focus your capabilities and organization to maximize profitability?
    • How do you develop the team(s) and capabilities you need to find your next big thing? And then scale it before your competition catches up? This week, you’ll learn how to focus your capabilities and assets on delivering to the customer. In particular, we’ll look at three core business model types which have distinct implications for where you should focus your organization with regard to Key Activities, Key Resources, and Key Partners.

Taught by

Alex Cowan

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