As the COVID-19 pandemic kept affecting our daily lives more and more, a multinational hackathon was organised called EUvsVirus, where people from all over Europe were able to participate under an existing set of themes and bring their expertise to the table to solve issues related to the pandemic. As part of the course Design Innovation Strategies, we took part in this hackathon and submitted as a concept a tool called the Crisis-Aware Business Model Canvas.
In times of crisis, SME’s struggle with maintaining themselves. They often lack the tools, people and expertise to adapt their business model to the new situation, with periods of financial difficulty and the threat of bankruptcy as a result, only worsened by some crises’ indefinite nature: without knowing when a crisis will stop when compared to when the reserves will run dry, SME’s must be able to adopt new and resilient business models to not only endure in times of crises, but sustain themselves. It is of course not always possible to make something out of nothing, but for many SME’s, having better insight in their situation will help them get their act together and improve their business model. And considering there are over 25 million SME’s in Europe, 99% of all European enterprises, a tool for this will be very valuable.
The Crisis-Aware Business Model Canvas (CABMC) is a worksheet that expands on the classical Business Model Canvas (BMC; Osterwald, 2010) by adding dynamic elements and interdependencies throughout the whole. Next to the well-known, boxed layout, the CABMC adds several contemporary interfaces that allow SME’s to fill in their BMCs with much more eye for detail. These interfaces are dynamically linked together, meaning that a change in one interface (for example the loss of a Key Activity) will automatically update all associated boxes (a loss of Revenue Streams)
The CABMC allows SME’s to respond to crises in real-time and visualizes their situation as a means to help their corporate decision-making. It can also be used outside of crises, to allow businesses to sketch theoretical crises and see how resilient their business model is. It updates them of the current situation and potential pitfalls for their company, allowing them constantly plan and check if their business model holds up in the current time, proposing potential action if the situation changes.
The primary goal of the CAMBC within crises is to lessen the impact and drop of the shock phase by improving SME’s responsiveness and preparation for such times, flattening the drop and allowing the SME’s performance to be much more stable, if below average, for the duration of the crisi. It can also allow an SME to recover more quickly, and start growing above its former norm in the new normal quicker than if the drop had been steep, and the SME unprepared.
As mentioned, the CABMC can be used outside of crises as a pleasant tool to dynamically visualize one’s business model and further support SME’s in making and updating them. Moreoever, it can be used to simulate new crises and the losses experienced by them, so that SME’s can theorize and prepare for situations wherein key elements of their business model would fall away, and how they would combat this.