6 Lessons Learned from Teachers on Business Model Innovation Classes


On June 9th over 30 teachers came together in Amsterdam to share their knowledge and experience on teaching Business Model Innovation with part-time and fulltime students. The purpose if this session was to learn what methods are used in classrooms, what students like and don’t like and how we can develop more materials to help the future workforce.

Teachers at work

Lesson 1: BMG vs. VPD

The Business Model Canvas shows up in all our of our four years Erik Hendriks, teacher at InHolland, says. Fulltime students get to know the business model canvas in their first year. They use it to understand business models. In the last years students do innovation projects where they apply innovation techniques like freshwatching, epicenters, what if questions to find new ideas. As they become more familiar with the business model canvas, the focus is more and more on the value proposition canvas to start with first. It is an easy start, it starts with the customer and helps to observe and design.

Lesson 2: Co-creation with companies

My assumption was that teachers and students want case studies. Yes, they want but only for inspiration. Not to work on. Harvard Business School is known for their great case studies, but that’s old school. Nobody wants to work on case studies on paper. Students want to work on real problems that are relevant for them and for businesses. All case studies taught at students are co-created with companies. The result is that students are highly motivated and companies get insights from the new generation.

Lesson 3: It is about tools, skills and mindset

At the start students think the business model canvas is an exercise where you fill out the boxes. Teachers have to tell them it is not. It is part of an innovation process where you go from understand to ideate to validate. It is an innovation journey. Teachers need more tools, teach the various different skills and create a new mindset.

Lesson 4: Students work visually

Students don’t report in a traditional way. They work visually on an open source platform called Moodle where they collect learnings and insights. In this so called portfolio they add the business model canvas, pictures from observations, the value propositions and so on.

Lesson 5: No traditional assessment

What about student tests? How do you test what students have learn when they apply the business model canvas? “When you teach design thinking, you have to accept that you need to think differently about that” Erik Prins, teacher at NHL, says. We don’t do the regular tests anymore. We work on three levels: a self assessment, the report for the company and their contribution to other students’ projects. You need to feel comfortable to put the assessment in the students’ hands.

Lesson 6: A new business model emerges

Erik Prins, teacher at NHL found out during co-creation projects with companies that they are willing to pay for the ideas and services from students. A new business model emerges. Erik and his fellow teachers launched an Innovation Lab in the former prison in Leeuwarden and could pay the rent by themselves. Erik now runs the first revenue generating program.


The result of the meeting was that teachers want to connect with other teachers and companies to share and learn on methods, tools and new content. If the book Design a Better Business is printed on September 1st it will be part of their literature list for 2016.

By Patrick van der Pijl - Author

Patrick is CEO of Business Models Inc. and producer of the worldwide bestseller Business Model Generation. He is passionate to help entrepreneurs, leaders, rebels and corporate companies to innovate their business model and design a future strategy.