The Product Manager’s Obsession: the Value Proposition Design

Yet another useful tool hit the shelf last Fall: the Value Proposition Canvas (VPC). I wrote earlier about the Business Model Canvas (here) which is a handy tool to map the fundamental hypothesis and describe the mechanisms of your company with 9 blocks. Although the BMC will mainly help you to challenge your business model with a holistic approach, you may want to narrow your focus on some specific blocks when it comes to creating new products/services. We all struggled to define to which extend a new product (or service) satisfies a market demand (ie. product/market fit). The VPC, is a popular framework that addresses that specific question.


In his new book Value Proposition Design, Alexander Osterwalder proposes a canvas for the relationship between the two most important parts of the business model: the Value Proposition and the Customer Segment. On one hand, the VPC captures the core issues around understanding and finding customer problems and, on the other hand, designs and validates potential solutions.

I have met many teams jumping too quickly into the BMC, which is at the big picture level, instead of spending time on their Value Proposition and its experimentations (more about experimentation in a later post). I cannot empirically determine the time you should spend on each canvas but I can tell you that if you don’t make things that people want, you are doomed. There is no point in drafting a business model (nor a business plan!) if at the very beginning you don’t laser-focus obsessively on getting to product/market fit.

As a product manager (or a similar position), here is one small step you should take for your organization: download the canvas and apply it to your business case. If you struggle after a couple of minutes, you had better lay out critical hypothesis and get out there to talk to customers, conduct experiments and hopefully validate or invalidate those hypothesis.

To go further: