The Sustainable Business Model Canvas - A common Language for Sustainable Innovation


Few methods for business innovation have found such widespread adaptation as the Business Model Canvas (BMC). It is now a tool not only used in startups, but also has become increasingly popular in the corporate world. A major advantage of the BMC is that it forces users to think of the most relevant aspects of a business model and provides a simple framework and common language for business model innovation. Nevertheless, the classic Business Model Canvas misses aspects that are crucial for sustainable product and business model innovation, related to e.g. the end-of-life, subsidisation and negative externalities.


For this reason, we have developed the Sustainable Business Model Canvas, an extended version of the BMC, which retains its advantages and in addition enables the user to maximise the sustainability impact of the product or business concerned.


The Sustainable Business Model Canvas


The Sustainable Business Model Canvas (SBMC, download here) is a great tool to incentives sustainable product- and business model design by forcing designers to think about all aspects relevant for holistic business model design (economical, environmental and sociocultural aspects), thereby adopting a triple-bottom-line (TBL) approach from the beginning.


By thinking about sustainability from the start, users can maximise the sustainability impact and generate more innovative business models and products.


At the same time, the Sustainable Business Model Canvas retains the advantage of the classic BMC of forcing users to focus on the value proposition and other important aspects.


The Sustainable Business Model Canvas

How to use the Sustainable Business Model Canvas

The Sustainable Business Model Canvas can be used in the same way as the classic Business Model Canvas by completing the individual sections, following the pre-filled guidelines. It is advisable to start by completing the Sustainable Business Model Canvas sections 1-11.

Once these sections have been completed, the top row can be filled in. A useful feature of the Sustainable Business Model Canvas is that it can be linked with the Sustainability Impact Canvas (SIC), whereby the Sustainable Business Model Canvas can be used to generate the input for the top two fields of the Sustainable Business Model Canvas.

Using the Impact Canvas to complete the Sustainable Business Model Canvas

The Sustainable Business Model Canvas can also be completed as part of the Sustainable Business Model Innovation Game (download here), which can be "played" individually or with a team. The Sustainable Business Model Canvas itself can be downloaded here.

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