Get to the Point! Value Proposition Design
Value Proposition Design isn’t so much a book as an operating manual. You’ll be hard pressed to find reams of long-winded arguments unfolding in a cascade of paragraphs. Instead there are numerous illustrations, ideograms and graphically enhanced texts, instructing readers on how to enhance the value of their products – or how to test new ideas during the transformation of their business.
Aimed at readers who are eager to get started, who want to play around with different ideas and scenarios in rapid succession – rather than waiting forever for the results of endless workshops and test phases. This is a publication that makes good on its promise: it’s literally about Value Proposition, which means the process of developing market and brand value. The most important aspect is that Value Proposition Design and the preceding publication Business Model Generation create a solid foundation together with the Strategyzer software, which also encompasses the proposed tools for the value design process.
This handbook for adding value to products and businesses has been divided into four sections: Canvas, Design, Test, Evolve. Canvas –already introduced in Business Model Generation, and carries the same name as the tool in Strategyzer – calls upon readers to address the customer quite specifically, and not in standard psycho-demographic generalizations: What do people want? What fears or needs do they have? Depending on the answers, customer profiles can then be elaborated that are more closely oriented towards basic human emotions, rather than describing external social conditions. At this point it is also possible to sow product ideas. However, the authors encourage readers not settle on any ideas too early, so that developmental processes have more time to mature better.
To prepare the design process, a method used in product design known as “rapid prototyping” is used. Speed is of the essence when an idea is translated into a tangible product, which is then subjected to a test phase, for which sustainable development is finally claimed in Evolve.
Individual thoughts are formulated in prompts and written out on double page spread. The transformation and/or added value of well-known businesses are listed as points of reference during the design process. Hilti, for instance, transformed their business from manufacturing to being a service provider; Airbnb developed a private rental online platform. To research customer requirements, the authors argue the case for a journalistic approach: “Ask your customers.” While elaborating the results one should use a visual approach: “Vote visually with Dotmocracy” (By this they mean sticking dots to preferred ideas in order to visualize the current tendency in larger workshop groups.)
Concrete questions are formulated for the test phase: “What could murder your venture?”, and finally a wide range of hands-on methods are proposed, from test runs with GoogleAds via life-sized test models, to private sample sales with limited editions.
The book impresses with a succinct but efficient representation of applicable ideas. It gets straight to the point, explaining clearly how consultants and entrepreneurs should proceed. It features current examples from the (internet) industry, and focuses strongly on visual language. The interplay of written and visual instructions, further enhanced by connecting the traditional book format with new online media and applications, make Value Design Proposition a convincing and must-have publication.
Alex Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Greg Bernarda, Alan Smith: Value Proposition Design. Publisher: Wiley, 2014. 290 pages, Price: 35.00 USD