A Personal Canvas To Reinvent You

Do you have a plan for everything but you? Does your team know where they are but not where they go to next? In our haste to deliver and to perform, we often lose that all important space to stop, to take time – and to think.

Whether attributed to Dwight D Eisenhower or Winston Churchill, anyone who has experienced project or new development will recognise the truth in the axiom ; ‘Plans are nothing, planning is everything’ – suggesting that first contact with reality, will make the PowerPoint or spreadsheet or beautifully bound plan redundant. Of course, the important build here is that this cold reality of the world beyond the plan, does not make the planning work itself a worthless exercise. Planning is valuable. There is a moment when to stop, to think, to reflect and look ahead, is the best possible use of our valuable time. Sometimes we may need to confer with others, to test our still emerging ideas and at other times, there is value in being alone and to nurture our sense of being quiet. In the apocryphal story about the meeting between Ford and Mazda motors, on being asked by the US engineer why he was staring out the window and avoiding the real work, the Japanese executive was famously said to have replied; ‘what makes you think I was not working?’.  

Taking time to reflect and providing a simple mechanic to focus the thinking, is a valuable addition to any personal or team coaching and part of my own coaching approach.  At its heart, a coaching relationship must seek to encourage autonomy, to facilitate a personal change and improve a self-knowledge. Whatever underlying methods or philosophies we use, coaching is still founded within hat Stephen Covey famously saw as our own public and private victories; how we know ourselves and know our impact on others. This is still a simple and obvious point to make as it is when I was first taught this in 1993 – but nevertheless, it is one that is still  for many of us, the profound work that never ends.

Business Model You developed by Tim Clark and Alex Osterwalder in 2012, provides a means to create a Personal Canvas, a simple one page self-pla, serving as a simple addition to any coaching conversation. With its ease of use, the Personal Canvas will be familiar to anyone who has explored agile or lean type philosophies or used the classic Business Model Canvas – originally developed by Alex Osterwalder, to firm up innovation or developmental thinking. A canvas, with its implied nod to an artistic endeavour, always suggests the value of creative process and thinking, the sketching and testing. It implies that the journey and effort of creation and re-creation, of construction and deconstruction, is an important build to the final piece of work. Every overnight creative success and simple ideas, was of course, years in the making.

Business Model You – The Personal Canvas. A Valuable Tool For Challenging Coaching Conversations

By focusing on different areas of the business, and with no set rules on where to start or finish, a good canvas promotes exploring simple but fundamental questions, that challenge and lead to deeper questions. From the front end, the market facing elements; the customer segments, the relationships, channels and the revenues – and from the back end, the elements you can shape, the product, the resources, skills, partners and costs. A canvas encourages iteration, where different ideas can be explored, assumptions are tested, dangers highlighted – and approaches firmed up. A the canvas is best when it serves not as a quick tool but as a catalyst for challenging conversation, fuelling curiosity and supporting fresh insights, decisions and action. Seen as this iterative tool, the Business Model You, based on the Classic Business Model Canvas, serves as a perfect aide to a coaching conversation, helping an individual own and create a renewed sense of a plan for themselves. When applied in individual or team coaching, the language of the Canvas shifts in Business Model You to the personal, exploring elements on behaviour, relationships and values. When combined with aspects of strengths and purpose, there is the realisation by many that their own sense of self, their skills and interests may have perhaps been undervalued. There is often a realisation, for a need to personally re-engage or re-invent themselves, just as businesses often need to do from to time.

However, perhaps the most powerful and challenging discussion to emerge when using a Personal Canvas, is when the coaching conversation shifts to the ideas of Costs and Revenues. Traditionally, accounting and budgeting principles are used to measure and balance the business model, and the sums are clear and logical – but in a Personal Canvas, this is often not where the depth sits.

What else apart from money do you get from your professional life that gives you value? And what are the non financial costs your career has?

Using a Personal Canvas, it is often the non-financial costs and benefits where the deeper and challenging questions are raised, many of which may be difficult to balance and to calculate.

All things considered, where do you add the most value, and who to, and what are the costs and benefits you get? And if your canvas does not balance as you want, what action can you take to refresh, re-balance or re-think that Personal Business Model? Just as a business may need to pivot and re-align, where might your adjustments need to be made? What are the internal and external forces, that may cause you to now change?

For many people, creating the space to plan for ourselves slips to the bottom of tour to do list yet allowing ourselves the time to consider who we are and where we want to go, is so useful to help us to grow, to be happy, to be productive. Knowing your activities, you partners, and who you truly help, can build a renewed sense of self, confidence, focus and momentum.

The Business Model You, provides a simple means to mix the ‘art and science’ within a coaching relationship. R&D and innovation projects are investments by the business, into the horizons beyond the known, new technologies, markets or focus. Just as experiments, research and tests are part of the way to reinvent future business, so a Personal Canvas, helps with the reinvention of a future you. As Clark and Osterwalder state; ‘Think of the Business Model canvas as a model for reconceiving reality, in ways that better serve you’ – (Clark and Osterwalder, 2014, p 172)

Andrew Armour is professional business coach and consultant. He is an Accredited Practitioner in Business Model You and you can find out more about how he can use this and other tools to improve the performance of you or your team here.

Author: Andrew Armour

Andrew Armour is a marketing and media professional, a specialist in business partnerships and the Founder of the consulting business - Benchstone Limited. His career spans from the UK music industry to the America's Cup, from winning agency pitches to securing key digital content deals. He is married to Viv, lives in Hampshire and works in London.

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