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    Business Design Books

    A Curated List of #BusinessDesignBooks

  • Basics

    Get a start into Business Design and learn the basic concepts.

    Also check my article on medium. If you have any comments or additions, write me.

    Business Design Book: The Lean Startup

    The Lean Startup

    by Eric Ries

    introduced the “scientific method” of experiment, test and iteration into the startup world. The method minimizes the resources needed to find a valuable business in an uncertain and changing environment by constantly making sure that the developed product fits the customer's need. With the recent flood of venture capital Steve Blank - who wrote the prequel - claimed that the approach is dead.

    Business Design Book: Business Model Generation

    Business Model Generation

    by Alex Osterwalder

    publicized the Business Model Canvas as an easy way to draft and iterate your business model. Every business is broken down into its nine main components representing the customer (desirability), operations (feasibility), and finances (viability). Osterwalder presents a range of examples and applies it, unconvincingly, also to platform business models. As more complex business models are difficult to represent comprehensively this way, I use it as a source of inspiration among others.

    Business Design Book: Running Lean

    Running Lean

    by Ash Maurya

    Iterating on the Business Model Canvas Ash created the Lean Canvas with a strong focus on finding the right problem to solve first. In synch with his catch-phrase “Love the problem, not the solution” he goes less into details of the future company but adds problem, solution and unfair advantage to the picture. Thereby making it easier at every stage of the company to test it against the user need and to start with a Minimum Viable Product.

    Business Design Book: Blue Ocean Strategy

    Blue Ocean Strategy

    by W.Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

    presents a process to create a service or product in a blue ocean without competition. The main idea is the strategy canvas that maps out the components of competing value propositions in a market and their respective offering level. This framework is used to create a blue ocean offer that moves into spaces that the competition covers hardly or not at all while deprioritizing other aspects. Thus customer needs are met with balanced costs.

    Business Design Book: The Innovator's Dilemma

    The Business Model Navigator

    by Oliver Gassmann

    looks at a business creating and catpuring value by asking for questions: What? value proposition) Why? (revenue model) How? (value chain) and Who? (customer). The authors claim to map businesses onto the 55 archetypes they defined and show a lot of real life examples. I find the business model cards they published to be more useful.

    Business Design Book: The Innovator's Dilemma

    The Innovator's Dilemma

    by Clayton M. Christensen

    introduces the concept of the disruptive technology or innovation: it describes how the offering of companies gradually overfulfill the needs of their customers. Innovators focus on actual customer wishes and are able to serve them better at a lower price: the incumbent got disrupted. Christensen already stressed the fact that an incumbent organization is not set up to meet these new challenges and initiatives should be placed in an autonomous organization.

    Business Design Book: Disciplined Entrepreneurship

    Discplined Entrepreneurship

    by Bill Aulet

    serial entrepreneur and senior lecturer at MIT Sloan, gives hands-on advice on how to start a company. His 24 steps process from idea to launch and beyond is straight-forward and actionable. He dedicates several chapters to the business model and how to make money with your product.

    He provides details on each individual step in his workbook.

  • Advanced

    For more advanced readers who want to dig deeper into one of the concepts.

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    The Invincible Company

    by Alexander Osterwalder et al.

    The latest book by Osterwalder takes a more holistic view on innovation: it does not look at a single innovation project but at the innovation portfolio and the organization enabling it.

    To facilitate this it introduces new tools: the portfolio map to manage innovation bets and the culture map to create an organization that supports innovation.

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    Testing Business Ideas

    by David Bland & Alexander Osterwalder

    follows the development of a business idea from exploration to execution. Along the way the focus is on reducing uncertainty within the business by increasing fidelity of the experiments for testing assumptions.

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    Monetizing Innovation

    by Madhavan Ramanujam & Georg Tacke

    gives a comprehensive introduction to the main topics around pricing and a tools to streamline the process. It posits four monetizing failures and introduces several pricing concepts like segmentation and bundling.

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    Financial Intelligence

    by Karen Berman, Joe Knight

    demonstrates that finance is less an exact science and more an art with room for interpretation and creative design.

    The book explores the three financial statements: income, cashflow, and balance sheet. It uses accessible language and real-life examples to teach the subject.

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    Discovery Driven Growth

    by Rita G. McGrath

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    Ten Types of Innovation

    by Larry Keeley

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    The Art of Opportunity

    by Marc Sniukas et al.

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    The Startup Owner's Manual

    by Steve Blank & Bob Dorf

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    Lean Enterprise

    by Jez Humble, Joanne Molesky & Barry O'Reilly

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    The Startup Way

    by Eric Ries

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    Lean Impact

    by Ann Mei Chang

    adapts the lean startup methodology to provide a language to talk about the specific problems of social businesses and proposes a framework to make their work more effective and increase the impact they have.

  • Design

    User research & service design complement the thinking about business models.

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    Service Design


    Andy Polaine, Ben Reason & Lavrans Løvlie
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    Interviewing Users

    by Steve Portigal

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    The UX Team of One

    by Leah Buley

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    101 Design Methods

    by Vijay Kumar

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    The Design Thinking Playbook

    by Michael Lewrick, Patrick Link & Larry Leifer

  • Product

    Product management & development are crucial to implement business ideas.

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    by Jake Knapp

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    Digital Innovation Playbook

    by Dark Horse Innovation

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    Build Better Products

    by Laura Klein

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    Value Proposition Design

    by Alexander Osterwalder

  • Leadership

    Organize yourself and others.

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    High Output Management

    by Andrew S. Grove

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    The Hard Thing about Hard Things

    by Ben Horowitz

    Starting from his own experience as founder-CEO in a Tech company Ben Horowitz describes the typical challenges in a very clear and entertaining language. He talks about how to hire the right people – with a focus on executive teams – by focusing on their strengths, not by minimizing weaknesses. He gives advice how to run a company with minimum politics. And he defines good leadership by the speed and quality of decisions, also in unclear situations.

    Additionally, he talks about how to scale a company, fire people, when to sell your company, and the emotional struggles as a CEO.

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    Thinking, Fast and Slow

    by Daniel Kahnemann

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    Getting to Yes

    by Roger Fisher & William Ury

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    Getting Things Done

    by David Allen

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    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

    by Stephen R. Covey

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    Never Split the Difference

    by Chris Voss

    Chris Voss, former FBI negotiator, presents a very different take on his trade than the Harvardian "Getting to Yes", less cerebral and rational more animalistic and emotional. Assuming honorable goals, it makes your communication more effective. Too bad it lacks some clarity in building the methodology up.

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