New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
Following on the popularity of the Business Model Canvas, a variety of additional canvas diagrams have recently been introduced for use in design, entrepreneurship, and business settings. This paper reviews a number of these popular canvas tools and describes the structures and processes that make them useful in academic and business settings.
Our top-level analysis recognizes that a canvas is a visual tool for decomposing a system. Visual representations of conceptual or qualitative models of systems are not new. In many of these cases, the representation expresses fixed relationships among known elements (typically the boxes in the canvas) or a series of process steps. Many of the recently introduced canvas diagrams are unique in that they are used to develop conceptualizations of models used in design or business systems.
Our second level of analysis defines a set of attributes that allow for the characterization and comparison of canvas diagrams. These attributes include system, life cycle, and educational characteristics. It is important to note that attributes were not created to score or rank canvases against one another, but instead to support individuals and organizations as they evaluate the canvases for their specific needs.
Our third level of analysis is to apply the attributes to ten popular canvases. This analysis reveals that these canvases have been developed for different types of systems in different stages of their life cycle. We include a brief case study to demonstrate the origin of a canvas and how its elements can be decomposed using the attributes previously identified.
For engineering educators, this review and analysis of popular canvases supports our understanding and decision making regarding canvas within a learning environment. Specifically, our analysis enhances educators’ ability to determine when canvases may be useful educational tools, how to select the appropriate canvas for a particular setting, and how to develop a new canvas diagram when a suitable one does not exist.
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