Three books to boost value creation

Andy Fayle

All winning products and services present clear and compelling reasons why customers should choose them over the competition.

Articulating a crisp value proposition up-front accelerates your product development process by focusing the team on the key benefits to deliver.

Here are three of the best action-oriented books to use in order to craft killer value propositions, with tips on how to get the most out of each of them.

Value Proposition Design

A. Osterwalder et al

Of all value proposition titles, this book offers the most comprehensive overview of the development process. Made accessible by engaging graphics and a coherent structure, the book covers everything from framing opportunities with an assortment of research methods and creating the proposition promise, through to testing offer prototypes with customers.

Focused around a value proposition canvas, the book covers the key elements you need to consider when starting a new project. Don’t get overwhelmed by its array of tools; figure out the core methods which will suit your team.

The ‘canvas’ offers a framework to structure the numerous facets of a proposition, including analysis of the target customer segment’s goals, pains and gains. The framework can require modification to eliminate overlap between sections. The ‘Test cards’ and ‘Learning cards’ offer a structured method to validate proposition hypotheses. In practice, you should avoid the cost and time of running a profusion of experiments by concentrating on those hypotheses critical to the proposition’s success, or by combining multiple learning objectives into fewer tests.

Blue Ocean Strategy

W. Chan Kim, R. Mauborgne

Written as a traditional business book, this is not as accessible as the other titles, but provides tools that make it an indispensable reference throughout the proposition development process.

Blue Ocean Strategy is most beneficial to those looking to refocus innovation on identifying new opportunities, rather than reacting to competitor moves. It offers a novel set of three frameworks to scope opportunities by looking beyond orthodox market boundaries and addressing customer ‘value innovation’, rather than traditional competitive positioning, to seek out the uncontested ‘blue oceans’ alluded to in the title.

During the early stages of opportunity identification the

‘Strategy canvas’ serves as a useful diagnostic tool, allowing the reader to capture and evaluate the factors that drive competition in the existing market space. It takes time to ensure the thorough definition of these factors, but it is worth the effort as later in the process the ‘canvas’ can be used to visually summarise customer reactions to proposition concepts versus competitors.

Running Lean

A. Maurya

An essential read to help product-focused team members expand their thinking beyond value propositions in order to consider the wider business context. If the proposition is about defining value for the customer, the business model outlines how it creates, delivers and captures value for the business.

Ash Maurya has an impressive track record of growing successful businesses and his book provides a leaner, more action-oriented approach to business model creation than Strategyzer’s original ‘Business model canvas’. While start-up focused, the book’s combination of agile techniques and its ‘Lean canvas’ can be adapted for any type of organisation to systematically build, test and learn about the elements

of an early business model and value proposition. The ‘canvas’ should be viewed as a prototype to test and refine through the project, from hypotheses to launch. To ensure the framework’s suitability for each project, consider tailoring the cells to emphasise elements pertinent to your business; for example, brand or key technology.


Andy specialises in the translation of insights into value propositions that help businesses develop new…

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