50+ Thinking Tools For Business

choice-overload
Choice overload is a phenomenon where consumers are overwhelmed by too many choices. Modern consumers have access to a bewildering array of products and services. Simply buying the ingredients for a morning cup of coffee involves choosing from a long and varied list of milk, sugar, coffee, and coffee machines. Indeed, connoisseurs who prefer 1% milk over 2% milk or coffee beans from a remote Ethiopian plantation are well catered for.
valuation
Business valuations involve a formal analysis of the key operational aspects of a business. A business valuation is an analysis used to determine the economic value of a business or company unit. It’s important to note that valuations are one part science and one part art. Analysts use professional judgment to consider the financial performance of a business with respect to local, national, or global economic conditions. They will also consider the total value of assets and liabilities, in addition to patented or proprietary technology.
scaled-agile-framework
The scaled agile framework (SAFe) helps larger organizations manage the challenges they face when practicing agile. The scaled agile framework was first introduced in 2011 by software industry guru Dean Leffingwell in his book Agile Software Requirements. The framework details a set of workflow patterns for implementing agile practices at an enterprise scale. This is achieved by guiding roles and responsibilities, planning and managing work, and establishing certain values that large organizations must uphold.
nadler-tushman-congruence-model
The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model was created by David Nadler and Michael Tushman at Columbia University. The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model is a diagnostic tool that identifies problem areas within a company. In the context of business, congruence occurs when the goals of different people or interest groups coincide.
toulmin-model
The Toulmin model is a system of argumentation that is used to develop, analyze, and categorize arguments. The Toulmin model was created by British philosopher Stephen Toulmin in his 1958 book The Uses of Argument. In the model, an argument is separated into its constituent parts and each part is evaluated in terms of how well it contributes to the whole. In other words, how valid or effective is the argument?
revops
RevOps – short for Revenue Operations – is a framework that aims to maximize the revenue potential of an organization. RevOps seeks to align these departments by giving them access to the same data and tools. With shared information, each then understands their role in the sales funnel and can work collaboratively to increase revenue.
ooda-loop
The OODA loop was popularized by U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Colonel John Boyd to describe maneuver warfare during the Korean War. The OODA loop is a four-step approach to decision making where strategies must be adjusted quickly. Those four steps comprise observe, orient, decide, and act.
moscow-method
Prioritization plays a crucial role in every business. In an ideal world, businesses have enough time and resources to complete every task within a project satisfactorily. The MoSCoW method is a task prioritization framework. It is most effective in situations where many tasks must be prioritized into an actionable to-do list. The framework is based on four main categories that give it the name: Must have (M), Should have (S), Could have (C), and Won’t have (W).
sipoc-diagram
In a SIPOC diagram, high-level process maps are used as simple yet effective illustration tools. Project leaders use them to quickly explain expectations and provide common reference points to all project team members. SIPOC diagrams are also helpful in identifying problem areas offering little value.
six-thinking-hats-model
The Six Thinking Hats model was created by psychologist Edward de Bono in 1986, who noted that personality type was a key driver of how people approached problem-solving. For example, optimists view situations differently from pessimists. Analytical individuals may generate ideas that a more emotional person would not, and vice versa.
straw-man-fallacy
The straw man fallacy describes an argument that misrepresents an opponent’s stance to make rebuttal more convenient. The straw man fallacy is a type of informal logical fallacy, defined as a flaw in the structure of an argument that renders it invalid.
operating-model
The operating model is a visual representation and mapping of the processes and how the organization delivers value and, therefore, how it executes its business model. Therefore, the operating model is how the whole organization is structured around the value chain to build a viable business model.
The Lightning Decision Jam
The Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ) is a means of making fast decisions that provide quick direction. The Lightning Decision Jam was developed by design agency AJ&Smart in response to the inefficiency of business meetings. Borrowing ideas from the core principles of design sprints, AJ&Smart created the Lightning Decision Jam.
lockes-goal-setting-theory
The theory was developed by psychologist Edwin Locke who also has a background in motivation and leadership research. Locke’s goal-setting theory of motivation provides a framework for setting effective and motivating goals. Locke was able to demonstrate that goal setting was linked to performance.
jobs-to-be-done
The jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework defines, categorizes, captures, and organizes consumer needs. The jobs-to-be-done framework is based on the premise that consumers buy products and services to get jobs done. While products tend to come and go, the consumer need to get jobs done endures indefinitely. This theory was popularized by Tony Ulwick, who also detailed his book Jobs To Be Done: Theory to Practice.
empathy-mapping
Empathy mapping is a visual representation of knowledge regarding user behavior and attitudes. An empathy map can be built by defining the scope, purpose to gain user insights, and for each action, add a sticky note, summarize the findings. Expand the plan and revise.

Business model canvas

The business model canvas aims to provide a keen understanding of your business model to provide strategy“>strategic insights about your customers, product/service, and financial structure;

so that you can make better business decisions.

Blitzscaling canvas

In this article, I’ll focus on the Blitzscaling business model canvas. This is a model based on the concept of Blitzscaling.

That is a particular process of massive growth under uncertainty, and that prioritizes speed over efficiency. It focuses on market domination to create a first-scaler advantage in a scenario of uncertainty.

Pretotyping

pretotyping-alberto-savoia

Pretotyping is a mixture of the words “pretend” and “prototype,” and it is a methodology used to validate business ideas to improve the chances of building a product or service that people want.

The pretotyping methodology comes from Alberto Savoia’s work summarized in the book “The Right It: Why So Many Ideas Fail and How to Make Sure Yours Succeed.”

This framework is a mixture of the words “pretend” and “prototype,” and it helps to answer such questions (about the product or service to build) as: Would I use it? How, how often, and when would I use it? Would other people buy it? How much would they be willing to pay for it? How, how often, and when would they use it?

Value innovation and blue ocean strategy

blue-ocean-strategy

A blue ocean is a strategy“>strategy where the boundaries of existing markets are redefined, and new uncontested markets are created.

At its core, there is value innovation, for which uncontested markets are created, where competition is made irrelevant. And the cost-value trade-off is broken.

Thus, companies following a blue ocean strategy“>strategy offer much more value at a lower cost for the end customers.

Growth hacking process

growth-hacking

Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation, coupled with the understanding of the whole funnel, where marketing, product, data analysis, and engineering work together to achieve rapid growth.

The growth hacking process goes through four key stages of analyzing, ideating, prioritizing, and testing.

Pirate metrics

pirate-metrics

Venture capitalist, Dave McClure, coined the acronym AARRR which is a simplified model that enables us to understand what metrics and channels to look at. At each stage for the users’ path toward becoming customers and referrers of a brand.

Engines of growth

engines-of-growth

In the Lean Startup, Eric Ries defined the engine of growth as “the mechanism that startups use to achieve sustainable growth.”

He described sustainable growth as following a simple rule, “new customers come from the actions of past customers.”

The three engines of growth are the sticky engine, the viral engine, and the paid engine. Each of those can be measured and tracked by a few key metrics, and it helps plan your strategy“>strategic moves.

RTVN model

design-a-business-model

The RTVN model is a straightforward framework that can help you design a business model when you’re at the very early stage of figuring out what you need to make it succeed.

Sales cycle

A sales cycle is the process that your company takes to sell your services and products.

In simple words, it’s a series of steps that your sales reps need to go through with prospects that lead up to a closed sale.

Planning ahead of time the steps your sales team needs to take to close a big contract can help you grow the revenues for your business.

Comparable analysis

comparable-company-analysis

A comparable company analysis“>analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company.

To find comparables, you can look at two key profiles: the business and economic profile. From the comparable company analysis“>analysis, it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

Porter’s five forces

porter-five-forces

Porter’s Five Forces is a model that helps organizations to gain a better understanding of their industries and competition.

It was published for the first time by Professor Michael Porter in his book “Competitive Strategy” in the 1980s.

The model breaks down industries and markets by analyzing them through five forces which you can use to have a first assessment of the market you’re in.

Porter’s Generic Strategies

porters-generic-strategies
In his book, “Competitive Advantage,” in 1985, Porter conceptualized the concept of competitive advantage, by looking at two key aspects. Industry attractiveness, and the company’s strategic positioning. The latter, according to Porter, can be achieved either via cost leadership, differentiation, or focus.

Porter’s Value Chain

porters-value-chain-model
In his 1985 book Competitive Advantage, Porter explains that a value chain is a collection of processes that a company performs to create value for its consumers. As a result, he asserts that value chain analysis is directly linked to competitive advantage. Porter’s Value Chain Model is a strategic management tool developed by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. The tool analyses a company’s value chain – defined as the combination of processes that the company uses to make money.

Porter’s Diamond Model

porters-diamond-model
Porter’s Diamond Model is a diamond-shaped framework that explains why specific industries in a nation become internationally competitive while those in other nations do not. The model was first published in Michael Porter’s 1990 book The Competitive Advantage of Nations. This framework looks at the firm strategy, structure/rivalry, factor conditions, demand conditions, related and supporting industries.

Bowman’s Strategy Clock

bowmans-strategy-clock
Bowman’s Strategy Clock is a marketing model concerned with strategic positioning. The model was developed by economists Cliff Bowman and David Faulkner, who argued that a company or brand had several ways of positioning a product based on price and perceived value. Bowman’s Strategy Clock seeks to illustrate graphically that product positioning is based on the dimensions of price and perceived value.

VMOST Analysis

vmost-analysis
The VMOST Analysis is a tool that allows a business to evaluate its core strategies in terms of whether the supporting activities of that strategy are being carried out. The VMOST analysis tries to answer that by looking at five core elements: vision, mission, objectives, strategies, and tactics.

Fishbone Diagram

fishbone-diagram
The Fishbone Diagram is a diagram-based technique used in brainstorming to identify potential causes for a problem, thus it is a visual representation of cause and effect. The problem or effect serves as the head of the fish. Possible causes of the problem are listed on the individual “bones” of the fish. This encourages problem-solving teams to consider a wide range of alternatives.

GE McKinsey Matrix

ge-mckinsey-matrix
The GE McKinsey Matrix was developed in the 1970s after General Electric asked its consultant McKinsey to develop a portfolio management model. This matrix is a strategy tool that provides guidance on how a corporation should prioritize its investments among its business units, leading to three possible scenarios: invest, protect, harvest, and divest.

VRIO Framework

vrio-framework
The VRIO framework is a tool that businesses can use to identify and then protect the factors that give them a long-term competitive advantage. The VRIO framework will help assess reality based on four key elements that make up its name (VRIO): value, rarity, imitability, and organization. VRIO is a holistic framework to assess the business.

3C Analysis

3c-model
The 3C Analysis Business Model was developed by Japanese business strategist Kenichi Ohmae. The 3C Model is a marketing tool that focuses on customers, competitors, and the company. At the intersection of these three variables lies an effective marketing strategy to gain a potential competitive advantage and build a lasting company.

Aida model

aida-model

AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. This is a model that is used in marketing to describe the potential journey a customer might go through, before purchasing a product or service. The variation of the AIDA model is the CAB model and the AIDCAS model.

PESTEL analysis

pestel-analysis

The PESTEL analysis“>analysis is a framework that can help marketers assess whether macro-economic factors are affecting an organization.

This is a critical step that helps organizations identify potential threats and weaknesses. That can be used in other frameworks such as SWOT or to gain a broader and better understanding of the overall marketing environment.

Technology adoption curve

technology-adoption-curve

The technology adoption curve is a model that goes through five stages. Each of those stages (innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggard) has a specific psychographic that makes that group of people ready to adopt a tech product.

This simple concept can help you define the right target for your business strategy“>strategy.

Business model essence

business-model-essence

A Business Model Essence, according to FourWeekMBA, is a way to find the critical characteristics of any business to have a clear understanding of that business in a few sentences.

That can be used to analyze existing businesses. Or to draft your Business Model and keep a strategy“>strategic and execution focus on the key elements to be implemented in the short-medium term.

FourWeekMBA business model framework

fourweekmba-business-model-framework

An effective business model has to focus on two dimensions: the people dimension and the financial dimension. The people dimension will allow you to build a product or service that is 10X better than existing ones and a solid brand.

The financial dimension will help you develop proper distribution channels by identifying the people that are willing to pay for your product or service and make it financially sustainable in the long run.

TAM, SAM, and SOM

total-addressable-market

Understanding your TAM, SAM and SOM can help you navigate the market you’re in and to have a laser focus on the market you can reach with your product and service.

Brand Building

Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Value Proposition Design

value-proposition
A value proposition is about how you create value for customers. While many entrepreneurial theories draw from customers’ problems and pain points, a value can also be created via demand generation, which is about enabling people to identify with your brand, thus generating demand for your products and services.

Product-Market Fit

product-market-fit
Marc Andreessen defined Product/market fit as “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” According to Andreessen, that is a moment when a product or service has its place in the market, thus enabling traction for the company offering that product or service.

Freemium Decision Model 

freemium-model-decision-tree

Organizational Design And Structures

organizational-structure
An organizational structure allows companies to shape their business model according to several criteria (like products, segments, geography and so on) that would enable information to flow through the organizational layers for better decision-making, cultural development, and goals alignment across employees, managers, and executives.

Speed-Reversibility Matrix

decision-making-matrix

Minimum Viable Product

minimum-viable-product
As pointed out by Eric Ries a minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT Analysis is a framework used for evaluating the business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can aid in identifying the problematic areas of your business so that you can maximize your opportunities. It will also alert you to the challenges your organization might face in the future.

Revenue Modeling

revenue-modeling
Revenue modeling is a process of incorporating a sustainable financial model for revenue generation within a business model design. Revenue modeling can help to understand what options make more sense in creating a digital business from scratch; alternatively, it can help in analyzing existing digital businesses and reverse engineer them.

Business Experimentation

business-experimentation
Business experiments help entrepreneurs test their hypotheses. Rather than define the problem by making too many hypotheses, a digital entrepreneur can formulate a few assumptions, design experiments, and check them against the actions of potential customers. Once measured, the impact, the entrepreneur, will be closer to define the problem.

Business Analysis

business-analysis
Business analysis is a research discipline that helps driving change within an organization by identifying the key elements and processes that drive value. Business analysis can also be used in Identifying new business opportunities or how to take advantage of existing business opportunities to grow your business in the marketplace.

BCG Matrix

bcg-matrix
In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.

Ansoff Matrix

ansoff-matrix
You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived by whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.

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Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"