To Uproot and Tear Down…To Build and to Plant: Channels

In this post I’m continuing to work through the various aspects of the business model canvas (BMC) that I introduced several weeks ago. If you’re just joining the conversation you can read about the first two aspects by clicking here: Customer Segments & Value Proposition.

Before exploring Channels I want to provide a few thoughts about models in general. The BMC is a tool that can assist in creating space for discussion by providing a common vocabulary for change and creativity. Organizations often rush toward implementation and neglect the conversations necessary for creative thinking, which precedes the specific experimentation and innovation. Working through the customer segments, value propositions, channels, etc., of the BMC helps lead to a more accurate interpretation of what’s going on within the organization. Models help, but they don’t directly lead to action. In other words, a model is not a solution. A model is merely a tool that can assist in clarifying the next step.

A metaphor may be helpful – consider the difference between a map and the actual topography of the land. A map provides a visual description of land including waterways, peaks, and valleys. However, the map is not the actual topography. Viewing a map of Haiti is not the same as standing in the Caribbean or hiking through the mountains. The BMC is only a tool – like a map. The tool is helpful to interpret, but it isn’t the same as the actual life of the organization or the topography of the land.

Within the business model canvas, a channel is a way in which an organization delivers its value proposition to its customers. For those who rush toward implementation, the quick assumption may be that I’m simply talking about how a seminary delivers education to students. Before making that leap, consider the multiple ways Winebrenner Seminary adds value to the lives of our students (aka value propositions). Winebrenner Theological Seminary:

  • contributes to ministry knowledge
  • assists in clarifying a student’s calling
  • provides training and equipping for various professional fields
  • provides a pathway to a degree
  • enhances a student’s personal formation

The channel assists in clarifying the various ways we deliver these value propositions to our students. Yes, structured learning environments are one way we accomplish this. However, when we prioritize our mission and see ourselves as focused upon discipleship within the life of the Church, other channels emerge.

The BMC assists in revealing that delivering structured educational experiences to students is only one way to provide one specific value proposition to one specific customer segment. What other ways can you envision delivering value propositions to our students? Assuming that a seminary only delivers education to students limits the creative possibilities within the organization.

The next post will dig deeper into “customer relationships” and will explore further ways we can reconceptualize our task within theological education.

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

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