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Journey Canvas: a business-oriented group brainstorming method

Let me start off with some background context. This past Summer I was introduced to two brainstorming / ideation techniques.

First was SCIPAB, which is an acronym for “situation, complication, implication, position, action, and benefit.” It was created by Mandel Communications as a 6-step method to help people communicate in a more impactful manner. (For more information: )

Second was a new technique for group brainstorming called the Business Model Canvas. It is a visual chart template initially proposed by Alexander Osterwalder for creating new, or re-evaluating existing, business goals ad value propositions for a product, system, or service. Additionally it is a technique recommended in the Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers book by David Gray, James Macanufo, and Sunni Brown (For more information: ).

As I was beginning to understand how each of these two techniques were intended to be used in a professional setting, I noticed a few similarities to other goal-setting and idea-generating methods in which I was already familiar. These other techniques include: SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats); Problem-Solution-Benefit model, SMART Objectives (Specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound). On the flip-side, there were also some unique, differentiating elements to each of these methods.

I had been asked to facilitate a brainstorming/ideation session in late summer, so I decided to create a new model which combined elements from several of these other methods and models.

At the beginning stages of a project, or even a new phase of an existing project, there are many challenges. Often one of those challenges is reaching an agreement on the goal or vision for the effort, in other words establishing a common direction. Once a common direction in place, then an additional hurdle can be communicating it out to all the project team members, stakeholders, managers, and others. Furthermore, for the individuals who will be contributing to the project, the next obstacle might be forming a shared alignment. In other words, once the direction has been established (the over used metaphor of the flag at the top of the mountain to ascend to the summit), next is to verify all the project team members are coordinated and synchronized in their work towards the common direction (to use the mountain metaphor, are they all pointing towards the flag with a level of awareness of all the other team members and the path they will take to ascend the mountain).

My goal for creating a new model was to focus on a tool to help project team members and stakeholders achieve a consensus for the direction/vision of a project and begin to establish the shared alignment towards that direction. For a technology product, one key element of this is to identify who the primary target audience is for the product. Notice this reference to target audience is singular. Sure a product can have multiple target audiences, but there should be one specific and primary target audience identified.

I introduce to you the “Journey Canvas.”

The goals when using the Journey Canvas may include:

Sections of the Journey Canvas:

1) Frame – a one line statement for the purpose of the product/project. In other words, stating a motto of the project team. This should be aligned with the organization’s purpose and vision.
2) Situation – Top 3 “Current State” circumstances
3) Strengths – Top 3 Business/Project strengths; what are we really good at doing?
4) Complications – Top 3 Changes/Pressures/Demands, which are creating problems, challenges, or opportunities?
5) Implications – Top 3 consequences of failing to act… to address the challenges, or seek the opportunities. What is the opportunity cost?
6) Solutions – Top 3 capabilities; begin to generate solution-oriented ideas

7) Unique Value Proposition – Clear, compelling message that states why this project/product are different and worth investment
8) Benefits – Top 3 results (what’s in it for the business, stakeholders, target audience/end-users, etc.); what would they say about the solutions (listed within section 6 of the Journey Canvas)?
9) Target Audience – Key personas/Users/Stakeholders
10) Channels – Paths to the Target Audience; this can be if validation is needed of ideas, to conduct user research, and/or to solicit feedback from prototypes

11) Key Objectives / Metrics – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound. What does success look like? How do we know if we achieved success? Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure?
12) Unfair Advantage – Why can’t the Solutions (from section 6) be easily replicated, copied, or replaced by competitors/threats? What gives us an upper-hand?
13) Business Model (Costs & Revenue) – How will we make money, and what will be the costs we incur? Will this effort be a loss-leader?

A recommended 3-step approach for using the Journey Canvas:

  1. Individual activity [part 1 of 2] – with each person writing their ideas (1 per sticky note) for the first five sections (approx. time to allocate for the activity 5 minutes)
  2. Individual activity [part 2 of 2] – with each person writing their ideas for the remaining six sections (approx. time 5 minutes)
    [note, this separation of the sections is based on feedback to guide participants through the activity and focus their attention on a few sections at a time].
  3. Group Activity – once each person has contributed their individual ideas, now the group can perform a card sort activity with the sticky notes in each of the sections. This will begin to help visualize if there are any emerging common themes as well as any distinctly unique concepts. (approx. time 10 minutes)

Lastly, once the Journey Canvas has been completed by the project team, it can serve as a spring board into other activities to build upon and further refine the concepts generated.

Template: Journey Canvas 8.5 x 11 PDF

(This article was originally posted at on 16 November 2015).

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