Critique of the canvas: A new honeycomb approach to business model innovation

Karen Miller, Curie Park, Steve Evans, Ian Bamford, Nancy Bocken

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Business model innovation (BMI) tools have become mainstream as entrepreneurs and managers seek systematic approaches to initiate business models (BM). However these tools, for example the Osterwalder and Pigneur (2010) Business Model Canvas, while offering tidy and structured formats, may not adequately capture the complexity of value propositions for multiple stakeholders with potentially competing demands. In order to address this issue, the
researchers first critiqued extant BMI tools, before designing the Cambridge Honeycomb Business Model Tool ™ - each building block is a hexagonal shape that collectively composes a hive-type structure. The Honeycomb incorporated the capacity of the Cambridge Value Mapping Tool ™ to articulate the value proposition by breaking it down into multiple value exchanges. A prototype Honeycomb Tool was tested internally with the research team in November 2015. Subsequently, following refinements the tool was piloted with a large
fashion retailer’s team during a collaborative two-day BMI workshop. Initial results indicate that the tool’s infinitely expandable hexagonal cellular structure, where cells are introduced independently allows greater analysis of the ‘Value proposition’ by scrutinising various value exchanges between multiple stakeholders, e.g. society and the environment. Value was composed of both tangible and intangible benefits. The pilot process revealed that the
Honeycomb is effective in generating not only general BMs with an in-depth analysis of value propositions, but also sustainable BMs. Sustainability in fashion retailing is particularly fraught as intense competition creates time and cost pressures - simultaneously customers and NGOs add to the burden with social and environmental concerns. Consequently, the Cambridge Honeycomb Business Model Tool contributes to academic knowledge by building upon other BMI tools and bridging Value Mapping approaches. For practice, the unbounded
structure of the Honeycomb Tool cells helps teams undertake detailed interrogation of BMs, which balance the needs of conflicting interest stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe proceedings of the First International Conference on “New Business Models”
Subtitle of host publicationExploring a changing view on organizing value creation
EditorsJan Jonker, Niels R. Faber
PublisherToulouse Business School
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventNew Business Models: Exploring a changing view on organizing value creation, The First International Conference , - Toulouse, France
Duration: 16 Jun 201617 Jun 2016


ConferenceNew Business Models


  • Business Model Innovation (BMI),
  • Cambridge Honeycomb Business Model Tool ™
  • sustainability
  • fashion retailing
  • value exchange


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