How to Invent the Future

Interview with Alex Osterwalder, creator of Business Model Generation Canvas, Value Proposition Canvas, and co-author of several books on management science and innovation, and founder of Strategyzer

The UN Brief Weekend Edition

The UN Brief is keen on innovation and this week we interviewed Alex Osterwalder, who needs no introduction. He is a household name at innovation ecosystems around the globe. His books include Business Model GenerationValue Proposition DesignTesting Business IdeasThe Invincible Company, and High-Impact Tools for Teams. Together with his kids, he crafted Biz4Kids, a comic book to promote entrepreneurship.

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I was introduced to the Business Model Generation by Marcelo Pimenta, a professor at ESPM in Sao Paulo, when he presented at Softsul, a trade body that federates software and hardware companies in the South of Brazil, during their Board of Directors review and planning session, in 2012. Have used the BMGC since, at two other companies. It is like having a crystal ball, and seeing the future unfold, a process that leads you to discover what your value proposition is and how to identify your target markets.

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The method helps entrepreneurs and organizations identify the value proposition of their products and services, how to best position them in the market, and monetize. In this short interview Osterwalder explains what innovation really is, how companies need to integrate the innovation function in their structures on a permanent basis, create a culture of innovation, as part of the process of constantly striving to deliver better products and services. He also spoke about his latest book, The Invincible Company, co-authored with his long time business partner and friend, University of Lausanne Professor Yves Pigneur, and his consultancy and e-learning platform, Strategyzer.

 Alex Osterwalder

Alexander Osterwalder is an entrepreneur, speaker and business model innovator. In 2015 Alex won the strategy award by Thinkers50 Strategy Award, called the “Oscars of Management Thinking” by the FT, and ranks #15 among the leading business thinkers of the world. In 2013 he won the inaugural Innovation Luminary Award by the European Union.

Alex invented the Business Model Canvas, a strategic management tool to visualize, challenge and (re-) invent business models. Leading organizations and start-ups around the world use it. He is a frequent keynote speaker at Fortune 500 companies and has held guest lectures in top universities around the world, including Wharton, Stanford, Berkeley, IESE, MIT, KAUST and IMD.

Dr. Yves Pigneur

Dr. Yves Pigneur has served as Professor of Information Systems at the University of Lausanne since 1984, and as a visiting professor at Georgia State University, University of British Columbia, and the National University of Singapore.

He earned his doctoral degree at the University of Namur, Belgium. He is editor-in-chief of the academic journal Systèmes d'Information et Management (SIM). Together with Alex Osterwalder, he authored the internationall best-sellers Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design.


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Dr. Alexander (Alex) Osterwalder is one of the world’s most influential strategy and innovation experts, a leading author, entrepreneur and in-demand speaker whose work has changed the way established companies do business and how new ventures get started.

Ranked No. 4 of the top 50 management thinkers worldwide, Osterwalder is known for simplifying the strategy development process and turning complex concepts into digestible visual models. He invented the Business Model Canvas, Value Proposition Canvas, and Business Portfolio Map – practical tools that are trusted by millions of business practitioners from leading global companies including Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, MasterCard, Sony, Fujitsu, 3M, Intel, Roche, Colgate-Palmolive, and many more.

Strategyzer, the company Osterwalder co-founded in 2010, is an innovation power house, providing online courses, applications, and technology-enabled services to help organizations effectively and systematically manage strategy, growth and transformation.

Osterwalder’s books include the international bestseller Business Model GenerationValue Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want and Testing Business Ideas, The Invincible Company and High Impact Tools for Teams.

He holds the Strategy Award from Thinkers50 and the European Union’s inaugural Innovation Luminary Award. In 2019, Osterwalder chaired the prestigious Drucker Forum, the premiere annual business management conference. A frequent and popular keynote speaker, Osterwalder travels the world discussing his ideas and strategies at Fortune 500 companies; premiere innovation conferences; and leading universities.

He holds a doctorate from HEC Lausanne, Switzerland, and is a founding member of The Constellation, a global not-for-profit organization connecting local responses to global issues around the world.

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