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To Uproot and Tear Down…To Build and to Plant: Introducing the Business Model Canvas

The phrase “to uproot and tear down” could be unsettling the first time someone reads it, especially when applied to one’s life within an organization. If you find yourself “un-settled” by my use of this verse (from Jeremiah 1:10) within this context that may actually be a good thing! It means that you are paying enough attention to know that things around you may be changing.

The idea of being a Settler is best understood within a broader framework of Pioneer/Settler/Town Planner (you can read more about these concepts by clicking here). Settlers often come into an environment after a Pioneer has disrupted and reorganized…which leads to uprooting and tearing down. All three are needed within the life of an organization; however, during a time of significant external chaos (think: COVID-19, political transitions, historical weather patterns, ethnic and racial strife, etc.) it’s more likely that the need for Pioneers will surface frequently.

In this context “to uproot and tear down” isn’t about organizational structure (although ti can be) but about our thought patterns and mindsets when it comes to organizational change. A helpful book for Pioneers or those who need to gain more familiarity with a Pioneer mindset, is Business Model Generator. It will provide some starting points about how thinking in terms of a “business model canvas” assists in working through organizational change (click here for a short video that will help clarify further).

This post isn’t intended to get into the debate about whether or not students are our “customers” so when using the category of “Customer Segments” it’s helpful to ask the question “for whom are we creating value?”

The most obvious group for whom value is created are students. Among the many examples of how this occurs is that educational opportunities at Winebrenner help a student pursue God’s call on their life, grow in their personal faith, and gain new knowledge and skills relevant to their chosen ministry field. For many students “value creation” is both formational and professional.

A second group that experiences value creation are our various collaborative partners. This group includes multiple organizations including churches, denominations, other seminaries, non-accredited ministry institutes, Christian high schools, and colleges and universities. Winebrenner currently has relationships with over 16 different collaborative partners and this network continues to expand.

An often-overlooked group who experiences value creation are our financial supporters and donors. It may seem counter-intuitive to consider those giving funds to Winebrenner as having value created for themselves; however, we are created in the image of a generous God.  We experience true joy when we contribute to something that is accomplishing God’s kingdom purposes.

For those who have listened to me talk in the past, it’s common to hear the refrain that our focus is on our students, collaborative partners, and donors. This provides a larger framework for they fit within our emerging ecosystem.

We’ll continue our exploration of our business model canvas by next looking at the specific “value proposition” found within our organization and how it relates to the various components.

– Dr. Brent Sleasman, President
– Image from Pexels, accessed on Adobe Spark

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