Everybody loves to hate the Excel-sheet. The model that shows the necessary cuts to costs. The model that shows the hockeystick blowing into the sky. Any model, really.
But don’t blame Excel. Blame the complexity of the world instead.
Because – newsflash – the world is a super complicated space, where nothing can be reduced to black & white, 0’s and 1’s and binary choices. It’s full color, total chaos.
All. The. Time.
For the very same reason you should never look down on the guy or girl whose job it is to use Excel to give a representation of the world. Because it is not only a super hard job. It is an impossible job. Because the world is complex.
Yet, it is great that someone is doing it. Cherish the Excel wizard.
Love the fact that someone is putting the chin out for you and others to hit – first on one side, and then on the other. Because at the end of the day we, as humans, need some kind of structure in chaos. Something from which we can navigate, have (informed) discussions and make (hopefully) slightly less bad decisions.
Because the best decisions aren’t made in a void with no overview. They are made where there is a sense of structure, overview and idea of what the heck is really going on in this world of constantly moving parts.
What do you do, when you are a big fan of Assumptions Mapping as brought forward to David J Bland of Precoil, but you are not into doing a lot of Post It’s on a wall? You of course build an Excel model for it.
I have been using Assumptions Mapping for a couple of years now, but I have always struggled to use it in fx a workshop setting, because the concept with the quadrant, identifying knowledge gaps etc is foreign to many people. My experience is that it often goes much better if you just have a conversation, ask questions and plot down the answers.
So, I build a model in Excel that does exactly that. It lets you ask all the questions, make notes and score each answer based on the degree you have hard data on it and its criticality to the overall project. Once scores, the model will build a scatter chart with the correct labels, and in an instant you will have a visualization, you can work from. Cool, huh?
(Illustration: Visualisering fra modellen)
During the years I have met many people who have been incredibly frustrated trying to make good use of Business Model Canvas. They often follow a traditional hype cycle, where they start up enthusiastically and full of energy and purpose only to burn out after a week or two with little progress.
While it is easy to blame the tool, the tool is not to blame here. It is more about how people are trying to use it and how little knowledge they have about effectively using it. Because Business Model Canvas can be an incredible useful tool – if you know how to use it to orchestrate building your business model.
It is a hard thing to teach, so the best thing is to show it. Luckily there is a poster boy example of stellar use of it from the International Business Model Competition in 2013, where OWLET knocked it out of the park and won with their incredible use of the model. Go and watch the video here – and then go and get the true value out of Business Model Canvas.