St Gallen Business Model Navigator


A simple and holistic model to describe business models.

The St. Gallen Business Model Navigator is a method for the interactive sketching of business models in innovation workshops and trainings. It was developed by bmi_lab, a spin-off of the University of St. Gallen.

The model includes four dimensions and is represented in a magic triangle:

1. the customer – who are the target customers?
2. the value proposition – what is offered to customers?
3. the value chain – how is the service produced?
4. the yield mechanics – how is value achieved?

If these four questions are answered and the dimensions of the customer segments, the value proposition, the value chain and the revenue mechanics are specified, the business model becomes more tangible and enables further innovations based on this.

Due to the function of the magic triangle, optimization/change at one of the corner points (for example, yield optimization) automatically requires adjustments at one of the other two sides (value proposition or value chain). If you change at least two of the four dimensions in known business models, a good opportunity for a novel business model arises.

The principle is similar to the TRIZ methodology, which has been used in the field of technical innovations since the 1960s. In the context of digital platform options, recurring, self-contained elements are also applicable to business models and can form the basis for new, innovative approaches.

For idea generation, 55 basic business model patterns are contrasted with the old business model via similarity principles and confrontation principles, and ideas are derived iteratively from them. To simplify the use of the 55 business model patterns, so-called pattern cards can also be used. These can be helpful in the implementation to play through different variants of a business model with a group of participants. Playful work with the cards helps to increase creativity and inventiveness.

The development of the Business Model Navigator was preceded by studies that showed that 90% of all business model innovations resulted from the recombination of 55 business model patterns. Of course, the model remains abstract, but it helps to take a bird’s eye view of one’s own business model and to playfully think of other ways. The maps provide a good approach to involve the whole team, they can be used even without deep prior knowledge in business model development.

The design of the business model and the planned integration into the existing context takes place in the next phase, before actual realization through testing, customization and market launch can take place.

The authors of the St. Gallen Business Model Navigator are Oliver Gassmann, Karolin Frankenberger and Michaela Csik.

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