Business Design Books
A Curated List of #BusinessDesignBooks
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more advanced readers who want to dig deeper into one of the concepts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
User research & service design complement the thinking about business models.
Organize yourself and others.
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.
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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