How Can Business Tools Help You? | Alex Osterwalder AMA Summary

“You don’t want a heart surgeon to turn up for your surgery with a swiss army knife. You don’t want them to use the wrong tools.”

Last week we had the pleasure of hosting Alex Osterwalder for a catch up before his Business of Software Conference USA 2015 talk – ‘How to Design Organisational Culture’.

As an entrepreneur, inventor of the Business Model Canvas and also a Best Selling author, Alex is well placed to comment on the tools people in companies can use to create clarity and direction in all areas their business.

In this focussed hangout Alex showed his in depth knowledge of the Business Tools industry – the highlights of which can be seen below. However, to get the full effect, watch the full video and begin to gain a better grasp on what is happening in your business vs. what you would like to be happening.

On the role of Business Tools

Business tools are not designed to be the be all, end all in business decisions. They do however shape and inform decisions by giving frameworks to consider all kinds of issues that would not otherwise have been touched upon without a guided process.

To use Alex’s quote – “Tools can help us nurture our thought process”. However, with tools, caution is advised – Alex uses the analogy of a heart surgeon “You don’t want a heart surgeon to turn up for your surgery with a swiss army knife. You don’t want them to use the wrong tools.” This applies with business tools – the right tools must be selected for the job at hand.

Ultimately, a number of tools used in collaboration will often be the answer – “a series of tools to match the complexity of business”.

On Current Business Tools

When asked on his opinion of current tools taught in business schools to the next generation of leaders, Alex argued that some were great such as The Blue Ocean Strategy Canvas, whereas others were dated. Alex gave the example of trying to apply Apple to Porter’s Five Forces – first arguing ‘they are the force’.

He also made the point that the tools were designed for a 1982 production environment where businesses were in one industry at any one time – but now, again with Apple, are they in the content, music, manufacturing, hardware, software markets? The trend of companies in many markets is one that can be seen across many companies  –  Amazon, Netflix, Nike, even Business of Software.

On Creation of Business Tools

For anyone wishing to follow in Alex’s footsteps in creating business tools, or even someone looking to develop a bespoke tool for their business Alex has this advice. The tool needs to be kept simple, intuitive and practical. Alex used the example of tools with 19 different variants will never get taken up because they just are not intuitive to pick up and play – the tool itself becomes the highlight of the show, rather than the information populating it.

Alex states at Strategyzer the thing they have done well is that the they are very good at making these conceptual tools which are simple to pick up and use.

On Alex’s Current Project

In Alex’s Business of Software Conference USA 2015 talk, he looks at his new business tool – used to design organisational culture. He chose this topic because it is such an undefined element in business, but a very important one. Everyone in business can relate to the issues culture can cause, and the benefits a positive culture could reap.

The new tool will be described in better detail at Business of Software USA 2015, check out the video, or better still, register for Business of Software Conference USA 2015 and speak with Alex himself.

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