Will Roney

Book Review – Business Model Generation, by Alex Osterwalder

In Non-Fiction Writing on November 2, 2010 at 13:03

There are many books in the marketplace to help people in business. They range from help to start a business, through to making sure the most is got out of any organisation. These books tend to have a formality about them that makes the reader take them seriously; after all business is serious enough for people to hang their futures on and depend on them for a livelihood.

Business Model Generation by Alex Osterwalder does not have this air of formality about it, as it is written very much in the mind of the moment. Dr Osterwalder (and significant numbers of other contributors), takes the attitude that there much to be gained from tapping existing creativity and knowledge. This is in an attempt to create business models for a New World Economy where old traditional ways of making money have been found to be wanting, and new models are needed to prevent anarchy, IP theft and failure taking its place.

I’m not aware of any other business book that is centred on the idea of business model creation, and on first glance this appears to be a book that is not for sitting on a shelf gathering dust. This is a book to use. To the author’s credit this book feels more like an educational text book than a business book. I can imagine that there are many people who once having bought it once, will buy it again in order to make notes all the way through and protect the original. This is a book to be used, tested and trialled to ensure that the best business model can be created for a given environment.

The basis of this book is the ‘Canvas’ (available as a pdf download on the book’s website) which is a simple 9-factor representation of the business model in a readily accessible form. Parameters for the 9-factors range from Key Partners, to Customer Segments all the way through to defining the Revenue Stream for the model. The simple nature of the canvas design allows students and entrepreneurs to copy, download and print out copies of it for further analytical work.

The beauty of this book are the many succinct and engaging examples of how different companies use different business models to generate revenue. Models highlighted include the Multi-sided approach of Apple, Nintendo and Google to the Long Tail model of Lego and Lulu. There is also a section on how old business models have had to be unbundled, and then re-created in a new way for a new world.

This book has been described by others as an MBA in book form, and it is easy to see why. Business Model Generation uses modern visualisation techniques to bring to life a process that is even more critical in these stringent times where national economies are climbing falteringly out of recession. This is a book that is essential reading for all who are either interested in business, or want to succeed in business.

Have you enjoyed this review? If you have, click through and buy the book HERE!


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