Design thinking to enhance the sustainable business modelling process: A workshop based on a value mapping process

Martin Geissdoerfer, Nancy M P Bocken, Erik Jan Hultink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

154 Citations (Scopus)


Sustainable business model innovation is an emerging topic, but only few tools are currently available to assist companies in sustainable business modelling. This paper works towards closing this gap by bringing together ‘design thinking’ and ‘sustainable business model innovation’ to refine the creative process of developing sustainable value propositions and improve the overall business modelling process. This paper proposes a new workshop framework based on a value mapping process, which was developed by literature synthesis, expert interviews, and multiple workshops. The framework was transferred into a workshop routine and subsequently tested with companies and students. The resulting ‘Value Ideation’ process comprises value ideation, value opportunity selection, and value proposition prototyping. The integration of design thinking into the innovation process helps to create additional forms of value and include formerly underserved stakeholders in the value proposition. Thus, the Value Ideation process helps companies to improve their performance while becoming more sustainable. Workshop evaluations revealed that the Value Ideation process assists companies in enhancing their value proposition by including positive economic, societal, and environmental value and a wider range of stakeholder interests. The ‘design thinking’ elements stimulate the ideation process and help to harmonise often conflicting stakeholder interests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1218-1232
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Business model innovation
  • Corporate sustainability
  • Design thinking
  • Failed value exchanges
  • Value creation
  • Value ideation


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