The business model canvas

This post is part of the ‘Architecture Models’ series.

The business model canvas is a very high-level view of en enterprise.  It lists what the enterprise does, its interactions, resources and partners / suppliers but no more detail than that.  It’s a sort of X-ray of the organisation that shows all of the working parts but not how they work together.  You might think that it’s worthless but, if you have some knowledge of the type of business, then it’s a way of documenting an overview that’s easily consumable by non-architects.


The lists of what the business does are just lists, often bullet-points.  There’s no correct or wrong way to write them just so long as they make sense to whoever reads the canvas.  The canvas has been used by many years (it was documented in 2010 by Osterwalder, Pigneur et al.) and so has become a standard template.  As such, the template headings provide a prompt of what needs to be documented.  There’s an strong overlap with parts of the Zachman framework but I prefer the business model canvas because it’s more consumable by non-architects.

If you were starting a new business then this diagram is a useful overview of your proposed enterprise.  If you’re starting to understand an existing enterprise or a department in an enterprise then the business model canvas gives you a place to write down the things that you find.  What it doesn’t do is explain how the different parts fit together; that takes an Operating Model.