Developing Systemic Startup Business Models with Purpose: The Flourishing Business Canvas and the New 4Ps

Holonomics is a business consultancy that supports organisations in their transformation processes based on the New 4Ps — Platforms, Purpose, People and Planet. We are specialists in the areas of strategy, customer experience, deep tech and cultural and digital transformation.

Holonomics Flourishing Canvas workshop
Photo: Holonomics

We have always believed in the potential of platforms for the positive good of the world. For this reason in 2015 Holonomics developed The New 4Ps framework — Platforms, Purpose, People and Planet — to explain how the new entrepreneurial reality was changing.

The original 4Ps marketing mix of product, price, place continue to be valid. But business as usual is now no longer an option, and therefore organisations which wish to transform themselves are now looking to the New 4Ps as a framework to utilise prior to any design, development and marketing initiatives.

Holonomics Flourishing Canvas Workshops
Holonomics Flourishing Canvas Workshops

If we really wish to create new startups which are authentic, purposeful and regenerative as well as sustainable, we need new ways to model them in a systemic manner. I am a member of the Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group which is based on the Strategic Innovation Lab of OCAD University in Toronto, Canada. This group has been developing the Flourishing Business canvas for six years, which is an evolution of the business model canvas.

In 2018 our Holonomics introduced the Flourishing Canvas to businesses both in Brazil and in other countries and we are helping startups through their business model development and design stages using this powerful systemic approach which focuses not only on regenerative business principles, but which also helps founders to consider how to fully engage their stakeholder commuities through the concept of value co-creation.

A traditional business model describes how an organization creates and delivers financial value. The Business Model Canvas created by Alex Osterwalder brings together the value proposition, customer segments, customer relationships, channels of contact with the market, resources, activities and partnerships. These result in costs and revenues.

The Flourishing Business Canvas provides a common language for describing and designing enterprises with a diverse range of stakeholders and goals. It builds an understanding of interconnections of the organisation, its products and services with its communities and the world: Economically, Socially, Environmentally. It enables broader, deeper and richer conversations about all aspect of value co-creation (and destruction). And it provides the context to enable stakeholders to collaborate around shared goals informed by their values — enabling teams to align on key strategic decisions.

Rather than focus on financial results, an interesting aspect of the Flourishing Business Canvas is the fact that the higher purpose of the company can be fully stated in the Goals section. In the example of Patagonia above, generally regarded as one of the most sustainable and authentic companies in the world, we see that they have five main goals:

  1. Build the best products which cause no harm
  2. Save wild and beautiful places
  3. Reverse the decline in the overall health of the planet
  4. Build a company which can last at least for100 years
  5. Provide good working conditions for every worker who sews.

We can place these in the Goals section of the canvas. These goals articulate the main purpose and ambition of the company and are the organisation’s definition of success. It is those companies who are fully able to articulate these goals and also live them authentically which manage to connect with the younger generation especially who are now looking for more than just meaningless and relentless consumption.

Business as usual is now no longer an option and so organisations which wish to transform themselves are now looking to the New 4Ps as a framework to utilise prior to any design, development and marketing initiatives.

Simon Robinson, Service Design Talks São Paulo
Simon Robinson, Service Design Talks São Paulo
Simon Robinson, Service Design Talks São Paulo

By developing this expanded approach to startup business design which integrates the New 4Ps together with the Flourishing Business Canvas, startup founders can develop a more systemic approach to their business modelling, engage their entire stakeholder communities with authenticity, improve their brand, employee and customer experiences and deliver new and geneuinely transformative value propositions.

Co-author of Customer Experiences with Soul: A New Era in Design and Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter

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