Philadelphia University’s Director of the Strategic Design MBA, Natalie Nixon, Ph.D., brought her vast experience and knowledge to share at the latest Girl Geek Dinners PHL event, the 10th dinner, hosted at Zivtech.
The Strategic Design MBA is a new program at Philadelphia University that merges both business school and design school that bills itself as The MBA for Hybrid Thinkers. The program integrates the best aspects of design thinking, namely problem solving and empathy, into a business context. Dr. Nixon outlined the program and the inspiration, goals, and needs behind it, then led attendees through a teaser of the program, an exercise called Business Model: YOU. Her goals for the presentation were that we left with a practical guide to help us in our professional lives and that we left inspired.
Dr. Nixon explained the business model canvas, which centers on the offering (What problem is the business solving?), customers (For whom is the business solving the problem?), infrastructure (How is the business solving the problem?), and the value.
Looking at a few particularly interesting examples, including Zara, Ikea, and Dansko, Dr. Nixon walked us through how to identify these brands’ epicenters of innovation based on their business model canvases and how their innovative strategies related to other parts of the business model canvas.
After we had a good handle on the concept of the business model canvas, Dr. Nixon encouraged us to think about how the business model canvas applies to our companies, businesses, or lives. A number of budding entrepreneurs attended, and a common theme seemed to be the overlap between the business model canvas for a new independent business and that entrepreneur’s personal life and personality characteristics.
After spending some time silently and individually reflecting on the questions posed by the business model canvas, we each mapped out our business model canvas on large sheets of sketch paper and discussed our ideas with nearby attendees. A few of us got the chance to present our business model canvases to the group and get feedback from other attendees and Dr. Nixon.
Whether attendees sketched the business model canvas for themselves or their organization, everyone seemed to come away from the exercise with a new way of looking at what they can individually offer to others in life or to their organization in a professional context.
The business model canvas is an excellent way of reframing the ways we think about ourselves and our organizations. If you’re interested in learning more, start with the resource list below.
Simon Sinek’s Start With Why
Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur’s Business Model Generation
Tom Peter’s Fast Company article from 1997, The Brand Called You
Photos by Elaine Archer
Recap written by Lisa Yoder
Lisa is a recent transplant to the greater Philadelphia area, having grown up on a dairy farm in the wilds of Central PA. She spends her days proofreading and her nights reading, writing, learning to code, and dreaming of where to travel next. She aspires to mash up all of these pursuits into something beautiful.