2. Tool

The tool is the Flourishing Business Canvas (v2 of the Strongly Sustainable Business Model Canvas).  It can be used to design strongly sustainable / flourishing business models by following the steps of the design method and applying the design principles.

Flourishing Business Canvas

This section of the "book" will introduce and describe each of the boxes on the canvas.

In 2014 our challenge was to figure out how to improve the version of the strongly sustainable business model canvas described in Antony Upward's thesis - chapter 7 (see thesis supplementary materials for various visualizations) to better meet the design principles stated below.  The thesis version of the canvas v1.03x is now referred to as the pre-alpha canvas.

By the end of 2014 we had developed v2 of the tool, renamed the Flourishing Business Canvas.  This is referred to as the alpha version.
Flourishing Business Canvas v2
Flourishing Business Canvas v2 - Click to see a larger version.

To gain free access to this version of the Canvas, including introductions, art work to print a poster sized versions, explanatory help and more, please visit the website: www.FlourishingBusiness.org.   Look for details of our free "First Explorers License".

It is proposed the canvas be renamed the "Flourishing Enterprise Canvas" in the next iteration (v3)  This will be referred to as the beta version.

All versions up to and including v2 will only be available via a free license.

It is planned that release version of the canvas (v4) will be made available, like the Business Model Canvas, under a Creative Commons license without a commercial restriction (e.g. BY-SA only).  The release version of the canvas will be published with a book describing it and the other elements of the Flourishing Enterprise Innovation Toolkit.

Tool Design Principles


From Antony Upwards' first sLab blog post

We need tools that:

  • Are straight forward and attractive to use – so people want and can use them – i.e. low barriers to use, without over-simplifying: as simple as possible but no more so.
  • Enable people to design strongly sustainable organizations of high quality – i.e. consistently the organizations they design reliably and effectively produce flourishing.
  • Enable people who do this design work to be able to do so efficiently – i.e. the effort required to produce strongly sustainable organizational designs of high quality is reasonable
We also need to ensure that we don't over simplify.  As Don Norman has discussed recently (see latter part of this blog post), complexity isn't bad - its necessary.  What is bad is not providing users with an appropriate way of interacting with the complexity (i.e. an appropriate combination of affordances, signifiers, mappings, feedback, conceptual models, and system image - all this from the 2014 revised edition of Norman's Design of Everyday Things).

The basic critique of the Profit-First Business Model Canvas is that is a dangerous over simplification - and any business model designed using it includes many risks which the tool does not make apparent to the designer.  However, this over-simplification, results in a tool which is highly accessible!

Four Design Principles

The following are proposed as design principles for our tool:
  1. We need multiple canvases
    • We are beginning to see how a range of canvases will be required - depending on
      • Scale / complexity / stage of development of the organization - from start-up, SME and on to large
      • The level of affinity of the canvas user to the increased complexity necessary to fully elaborate a strongly sustainable business model (i.e. user worldview on the profit-first to strongly sustainable continuum)
      • The available attention of the canvas user to describe, diagnose, or design improved business models  (from the small amount of attention available for a quick introduction to the whole idea of a collaborative visual design tool for designing future fit businesses, through to the significant attention available in a deep deep dive to diagnose and design a better business model) 
    • Open questions include the number of canvases required to create sufficient utility for all these use cases and whether these canvases should
      • Share a visual look and feel
      • Show a progression  or be discontinuous in level of detail
    • We need a good collective noun for a number of canvases!

  2. Canvases must have utility to describe and design business models anywhere on the continuum from profit-first to strongly sustainable
    • Utility means canvases
      • Are straight forward and attractive to use (visually/aesthetically etc.)
      • Embed the best current natural, social and formal scientific knowledge of what conditions best enable strongly sustainable outcomes to emerge from human organizations - financially viable, socially beneficial and environmentally regenerative (as described in my thesis Chapters 3 and 4 here)
      • Enable business model designs of high quality to be produced with reasonable effort 
    • This definition from my opening blog post for the SSBMGroup written in July 2012 under the heading "A New Approach" http://blog.ssbmg.com/2014/01/26/ssbms_defining_the_field/.

  3. SSBMI Toolkit Canvases must remain conceptually "powered by" the SSBMOntology
    • This can include decisions not to include some entities and relationships from the SSBMO on a given canvas, and decisions to add additional concepts to a given canvas
    • For any canvas the relationship between the boxes and their layout to the entities and relationships of the SSBMO must be understood
      • This understanding of the relationship between any canvas and the SSBMO ensures alignment with the science of strong sustainability and enables appropriate usage guidance to be included in the accompanying methods (Chapter 4 of the Toolkit)
    • The full SSBMO can be downloaded here and is described in detail of Chapter 7 of my thesis here.  Summaries of the SSBMO are also downloadable on this page - SM3 and SM4a
      • In conjunction with Florian's SUST-BMA research project, which may use the SSBMO, we hope to offer opportunities for team members to learn and discuss the SSBMO.  
      • In the mean time, see the materials in this section of our learning map, including a recording and prezi of a 90 min webinar about the SSBMOntology.

  4. Canvas Developers should be aware of problems already identified with the pre-Alpha Canvas and Alpha Canvas
    • Sources of existing feedback are listed immediately below in the heading "Feedback Received".  This includes the feedback received during Antony's graduate work.
    • Attempts to solve these problems would be welcome, and ideally improved canvases should not make these problems worse (or be aware of this if they do)
    • Again this understanding of problems solved and outstanding enables appropriate usage guidance to be included in the accompanying methods (Chapter 4 of the Toolkit)

Note items 2 and 3 are identical to the Canvas Design Principles Antony Upward used to construct the pre-Alpha Canvas from the SSBMOntology in his  thesis - Chapter  4 section 4.7.4 Canvas Design Principle here (also provided on the last page/page 4 of Thesis Working Paper #3)

Feedback Received


The following feedback has already been gathered on the pre-alpha canvas

  • From Antony Upward's graduate work - summarized on these two slides - done well and do better.
    • For details
      • See Chapter 2 section 2.6 "designed limitations" of the thesis here
      • See Chapter 9 section 9.3 "determine candidate changes" of the thesis here
  • From the following informal feedback events conducted during Antony's graduate work - summarized on this slide, additional detail in the see this blog post
  • From a growing number of consulting marketing and sales situations (via Better My Business) and delivery engagements (interview Harvey Weisfeld, Bruce Stewart and Antony Upward for details)
  • From a growing number of uses in the classroom (interview Bruce Stewart and other Core Development Team Members)
  • From a workshop on "the Case of the Better Cheese Company" held with OCADU SFI students May 28, 2014.  Notes of feedback received here.

Design Charette - Feb 2014

Prof. Peter Jones ran a design charette at the OCADU sLab on February 11 /12 with the whole Core Development Team and some OCADU Strategic Foresight and Innovation masters students get feedback on useability, visual look and feel, structure and content of the SSBMCanvas.

The presentation made by Peter at the start of the design charette can be found here.

The raw and organized output of the charette (and the other workshops held that week) can be found in the SSBMG dropbox here.  This includes many ideas for improvements and alternatives to the canvas - some of which do and don't align with the canvas design principles above.  The project's GoogleDrive also has some additional materials - including a summary presentation of all the Canvas alternatives arising from the Charette (except Peter Jones) from Bob Willard (in the "Workshops - Feb 2014" folder)

This presentation, produced by Peter Jones some months afterwards provides an initial assessment of the pros-and-cons of the canvas's that were developed during the charette.

On-going Testing and Development - Fall 2014-present 

As of spring 2017 members of the Flourishing Enterprise Innovation Toolkit project team have conducted over 80 events (workshops and labs) in 10 countries with approx 1400 people with the Flourishing Business Canvas (v2 / Alpha).

In addition over 80 First Explorer Licensees have been using the current version of the Flourishing Business Canvas and other elements of the Flourishing Enterprise Innovation Toolkit.  

Together these activities are generating significant amounts of validation and ideas for improvements.

Antecedents and Alternatives

The most exhaustive review of both profit-first, weak and strongly sustainable business models as of fall 2013 is included in Antony Upward's thesis - chapter 4 - specifically sections (profit-first, pp.337-349), (weakly sustainable, pp.349-356) and (strongly sustainable, pp.384-395).

Group members are encouraged to comment on, add other models found, and add their own thinking (published or not).

To start a list of related to tools that we've heard people are using in the community instead of the BMC:

  • A list of various business model canvases and other visual design tools at Canvaizer - https://canvanizer.com/choose/business-model-canvases
    • Business Model Canvas
    • Lan Canvas
    • Lean Change Canvas
    • Feedback Canvas
    • SWOT Canvas
    • Open Innovation Canvas
    • Convas4Change
    • Business Model Zen Canvas / Business Model Cube
    • HR Innovation Canvas
    • Pitch Planner Canvas
    • Disruption by Design Canvas

  • Another library of various canvases as been assembled by Tuzzit https://www.tuzzit.com/en/canvas
    • The 5 Whys
    • The Business Model Canvas (including a colour version by Spohie Racquez for her book Business Model Creation)
    • COCD Box
    • The Digital Marketing Canvas
    • The Empathy Map
    • The Impact / Effort Matrix
    • The Lean Canvas
    • Lean Journanalism Canvas
    • My Social Business Model Canvas
    • Personal Business Model Canvas
    • PEST analysis
    • Project Canvas
    • The Rainforest Canvas
    • Progress Board
    • Six Thinking Hats
    • SWOT Analysis
    • The Urgent / Important Matrix

  • Lean Canvas by Ash Murya at PracticeTrumpsTheory (Spark59) (and the author of the book "Running Lean").  Our member Ondine Hodgeboom should be consulted about this given her work and MBA research on the application of lean to social innovation.
  • See the Feminine Lean Project Canvas below for an adaptation to the Lean Canvas.
  • Creative Business Canvas - Shee

  • Social Impact Canvas by Jorge Calderon Managing Director, Impact Strategy Advisers and "The Social Blueprint"
2. Tool
  • Latest version of the "Social Impact Canvas" as of April 2015 can be downloaded here (v3.21)
  • Latest version of the "Social Impact Business Design Framework" can be downloaded here (v3.0)
  • This canvas is interesting as it includes some of the things we've included in the Flourishing Business Canvas (for example goals - called "anchor purpose" and stakeholders - and the implications on value propositions, relationships and channels of the shift to stakeholders from customers).  But it misses the social context and its implications (the need to consider eco-system actors and their needs), and the environment context and its implications completely). 
  • Further it looses some of the conceptual boundary set by Osterwalder for a Business Model by including competitive factors by its inclusion of Differentiation and Magnitude (suspect this author didn't go back to the Business Model Ontology which is where this boundary is described; although Business Model Generation makes it clear by suggesting the use of Porter's Five Forces Model to explore the competitive factors, and this is picked up in Henning Breuers Business Model Starter Kit).
  • "Business Impact Canvas" - Pique Ventures - Bony Foley Wong - described here.  It appears this is just an interpretation of the BMC - revising the text of the questions rather than the questions themselves (This from her "Integrated Investing Toolkit" Dec 2015)
Business Impact Canvas (Pique Ventures)

Social Business Model Canvas from Socail Innovation Lab by Tandemic
  • Impact Canvas
    • This was developed by Mike Brcic "Dean of Social Entrepreneurship at the Centre for Social Innovation, Toronto".  Introduction to the history of this canvas here.

      The Impact Canvas by Mike Brcic

    • Unclear how the changes made to the Business Model Canvas to arrive at this were made.
    • Note this seems highly similar to the Social Impact Canvas and Social Lean Canvas - although the some differences (without explanation of why)

  • Platform Design Canvas and Toolkit v2 by Simone Cicero.  Introduced in this slideshare. Consists of:
    • Ecosystem Canvas
    • Ecosystems Motivation Matrix

    • Platform Design Canvas
    • Platform-Partner-Peer Transaction Matrix

  • Platform Schema

  • Social Business Models by the Swiss based Association of Social Business Models lead by Claude Michaud
    • There is a ton of material on SlideShare and on their website (under Outils) - including poster sized downloads of all the multiple elements of their tools (and associated instruments) - mostly in French.
    • Lots of really interesting diagrams - for example relationships between values and organizational culture - here
    • Also appears to include a method for social business design - which goes well beyond the traditional boundaries of business model thinking - into the areas that the Business Model Starter Kit goes into.
Overview of the 5 Canvas (RSE - Responsabilité sociétale des entreprises, Valueurs, Stratégie, Gouverance, Modèle d'affaires)

1 - RSE Canvas (Responsabilité sociétale des entreprises)

2 - Valeurs Canvas

3 - Stratégie  Canvas

4 - Gouverance

5 - Modèle d'affaires (Business Model - English Version)

How the Canvases Fit Together in a Social Business Method / Theory of Change
This appears to be a method for social business design - which goes well beyond the traditional boundaries of business model thinking - into the areas that the Business Model Starter Kit goes into.

Additional Ideas for Improvements / Changes

From Joyce Alexandre

(I know that this could be easily regarded as weak sustainability, but it's a starting point.)

Antony Comments:
Your ideas are very much aligned with a lot of things Yves Pigneur said to us when he visited Prof. Nabil Harfoush, Bob Willard and I at the OCADU sLab in the early summer (unfortunately despite repeated requests he never shared his slides with us;  did you get to meet him - I think I mentioned he spent most of the summer in Montreal).
Your ideas are also very much aligned with the thinking of Andrew Outhwaite of "We Are Rising" in Australia.  See pp.390-391  of my thesis (http://hdl.handle.net/10315/20777).  I can send you more of Andrew's background material if the summary in my thesis this proves interesting.  He has some worked examples which I found useful to understand his model - which is layered like yours.

From Antony Upward

As I was doing the original evaluation of the SSBMOntology and SSBMCanvas  during my thesis using the Timberland Company I found I needed a "table" or "database" view of the Ontology.  I documented this in the Supplementary materials and also in Chapter 8 where I reported on the results of this evaluation
  • Table Format of SSBMO Example: SM6a-SSBMO-Example-Timberland-Detail_v1.022__44x44_.pdf View/Open
  • Summary of Table Format of SSBMO using PPT:  SM6b-SSBMO-Example-Timberland-Summary_v1.022__8.5x11_.pdf View/Open
  • SSBMCanvas Example of Timberland: SM7-SSBMC-Example-Timberland_v1.03__24x20_.pdf View/Open

As I start to work on my first paying clients, describing their current business models I am finding this tabular approach useful to get my head around the current business models (based on documentation and other materials they give me - I have a list I have developed of documents that typically includes information relevant to their current business model - happy to share)

This template is currently in Microsoft OneNote - I've included it in HTML below, or click here to download, then double click to open in a browser (couldn't figure out how to make this work more seamlessly).  You need to zoom out in the browser a long way to see it all (control + minus sign usually works)

Additional ideas and notes that may be useful to help describe aspects of the thesis in addition to Chapter 7 of Antony's thesis, found since the thesis was completed:

Alex Osterwalder released a blog post consisting of a check list for effective use of the canvas and there has been a good discussion in the comments we can build on here.

  1. Does the level of granularity of your Canvas correspond to your objectives?
  2. Is every Building Block in your Canvas connected to one another?
  3. Is every Building Block in your Canvas precise enough?
  4. Do you make smart use of both images and words to convey your message?
  5. Do you make good use of color-coding?
  6. Does your Canvas distinguish between “as-is” and “to-be”?
  7. Does your Canvas distinguish between “knowns/facts” and “unknowns/assumptions”?

From John Sutherland, Author Value Designer Canvas

(see comments in this thread in Linkedin group where John wrote, based on his presentation to the SSBMG in Jan 2014)

I hope I have been able to ground the conversations around value creation, versus value selection in a new framework, complete with language. The difficulty in trying to describe a universal phenomenon is that often times no terms exist for the phenomenon. The VDC outlines the dynamic that occurs when someone is presented with a new "thing/idea/process/combination thereof" (Label = disruptor) and how in engaging with it value is created for that user.

I've included below a glossary of the important terms. Alphabetically given - you will need to view the canvas to see how they fit.
• Actions: The steps taken by a user to use an offering.
• Aesthetics: The beauty/pleasures/hazards exposed to when using a disruptor.
• Back-stage Resources: The required assets, capabilities, partnerships, etc. that make the front-stage interfaces functional.
• Behavior space: The sum of all behaviors deployed by users in the expression of their desires and goals.
• Behavior Universe: For any given environment and time, the totality of behaviors available.
• Behavioral Norm: The regular/habitual behaviors exhibited by an individual or group in the expression of their desires.
• Desires: The wants, cravings and wishes the offering is intended to address.
• Disruptive Scenario: A story of how someone uses a disruptive offering to improve her life.
• Disruptor Words: The new terms/labels created to describe the offering and/or the new behavior.
• Disruptor: The object, idea, or invention, that allows new behaviors to emerge in the expression of human desires.
• Front-stage interfaces: The objects, ideas, processes, or combinations thereof with which the target interacts.
• Relationship Space: For any individual, the sum of all positive and negative relationships across seven dimensions – time, space, objects, ideas, people, self, energy/costs. 


1. Life is the sum of all relationships, good and bad (Your Relationship Space).
2. Value is created when a user’s Relationship Space expands.
3. Growth in Relationship Space is a function of the change in a user’s Behavior Space.
4. Successful products/ services/ ideas act as disruptors enabling a new Behavior Space to emerge in the expression of human desires and motivations.
5. When comparing between competing disruptors, users judge the comparative goodness of: 

• The expansion of the Relationship Space made possible by the disruptor.
• The simplicity in using the interface and Behavior Space.
• The aesthetics of the interface and Behavior Space. 

6. Disruptors create new Behavior Space by modifying the behaviors of an existing behavioral norm in four ways:
New Behaviors, Eliminated Behaviors, Enhanced Behaviors, Reduced Behaviors
7. Overtime, the transformed Behavior Space becomes a new Behavioral Norm.

The value we feel comes from usage and engagement with the offering (called disruptor). If the use experience and impact between offerings is identical then they are indistinguishable.

We feel differences when in using the offering we change. The phone was valuable because we changed. We stopped walking to talk to our friends and made a phone call instead. The Phone and all other offerings are successful because they change us. They change what we do, how we do it, the habits we have, the behaviors we rely on to achieve the things we want to achieve to become the person we wish to be.

That is as true for new ideas as it is to objects and processes. We obtain value from offerings because they disrupt our existing behavior and allowing us to behave in NEW WAYS to achieve our goals. And they new ways improve our relationship with the world.

Here is an exercise.
1. Go outside and stand on the grass and look at everything around you. Anything that is not natural was a disruptor created by man.
2. Take an item, like an asphalt road and imagine what life was like before. Think of all the new behaviors that came from that invention.
3. Then do that for the telephone pole or the ball-point pen.
4. Form the habit of looking at objects and processes from a behavior change perspective – the behaviors before and the behaviors after.
In our daily lives, we never see the behavioral implications of all the objects and ideas in our life.
• We don’t look at the cement sidewalk and contemplate the behavior change that made.
• Or the brick and how it changed the way we create buildings.
• Or the idea that we should judge a man by the content of his character and not the color of his skin, and how that changed the way we deal with people of different races.
• Or calculus and how it changed the way we compute trajectories.

Value creation is about changing the user by giving them new ways to achieve their desires in a way that improves their relationships.

Once you view the world through this lens everything becomes clearer.

From Javier De Vincente

Javier developed the first alternative visualization of our v2 Flourishing Business Canvas in the fall of 2014 and shared these ideas with us when he became a member of the Strongly Sustainable  Business Model Group

He left the Flourishing Business Canvas conceptually unchanged by redrew it very much in the style of the business model canvas illustrations originally done by JAM Visual Thinking (as credited in the front of Business Model Generation; a credit for JAM appeared on some of Alex Osterwalder's earlier slides, presentations and blog posts - prior to ~2012).

However, unlike the black and white pencil drawings of the Business Model Canvas, Javier did his Flourishing Business Canvas drawings in colour (and they really look good).  

From Other Strongly Sustainable Businesss Model Group Members

Capability Canvas by Jörgen Dahlberg

The Capability Canvas by  Jörgen Dahlberg

Social Lean Canvas by Rowan Yeoman & Dave Moskovitz @ Akina Foundation

http://socialleancanvas.com/the-canvas/ - thanks to SSBMG Ondine Hodgeboom for introductions
Note this seems highly similar to the Social Impact Canvas by Jorge Calderon and the Impact Canvas by Mike Brcic. See image under "Antecedents and Alternatives" above.
The Social Lean Canvas - Rowan Yeoman ,  Dave Moskovitz, Akina Foundation

Feminist Lean Project Canvas by  C.V. Harquail (@CVHarquail)

A development of the Lean Canvas by Ash Maurya.

The author makes it clear in this GoogleDoc about this canvas that this is not a canvas for organizational design. Like the original lean canvas it appears to be more for helping projects figure out some aspects of the design of that project! Unlike the Flourishing Business Canvas it misses aspects of society and all of the environment!

Thanks to Petra Kassun-Mutch for higlighting this.
Feminist Lean Canvas by CV Harquail

Rainforest Canvas by Victor W. Hwang and Greg Horowitt T2 Venture Capital via TuzzIt

See https://www.tuzzit.com/en/canvas/rainforest_canvas - focuses on designing for-profit business ecosystems - like Silicon Valley (the subtitle of their book is "The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley").  Its NOT designed to explore the context of individual organizations.  Example: this canvas could be useful to politicians and public policy folks, e.g.  in Queens Park or the Ontario Public Service looking to design the KW-Toronto-Ottawa Southern Ontario tech landscape this tool might be useful; or if I was an Angel Investor looking at what changes I might provoke to give back to my own community.

Thanks to Victoria Alleyne at CatalystX for highlighting this. 
Rainforest Canvas

Business Model Zen Canvas by Brad (Yongo) Cho based on the Business Model Zen

Value Co-Creation Canvas - Wim Rampen

Value Co-Creation Cavnas
To learn more visit Wim's website here, and read the ebook here.

Te Whata - A Platform for Innovation and Māori Entrepreneurship - Corey Bragg -

(Otago University, New Zealand/Aotearoa)

The first adapation we've seen of the Busines Model Canvas specifically including concepts from  indigenous / aboriginal / First Nations knowledge.  Looking forward to learn more about this.  Thank to SSBMG members Okawaho Equal Source (Shyra Barbaerstock) for hilighting this.

From this document Corey states "A key distinction of Te Whata, when compared to the BMC or Social Lean Canvas, is the creation of a 10th building block, or ‘storehouse’, that integrates and embeds cultural values and aspirations into new venture creation.

Admin Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group,
May 2, 2014, 3:49 PM
Admin Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group,
Nov 6, 2013, 8:19 AM