A macro tool for a global vision: the Value Chain Canvas

A macro tool for a global vision: the Value Chain Canvas

We are in a period of climate, energy and economic transition. You have probably heard of the “Common Good Economy”, “Social and Solidarity Economy”, “Impact Business”, “Circular Economy”, “Corporate Responsibility”, “Mission-based Enterprise”. Different models but a common objective: to find meaning. The regulatory framework is constantly evolving to reflect this dynamic. Multilateral initiatives, national and international action strategies, climate negotiations, more than a hundred international initiatives and coalitions have been launched since COP21 (Assessing low Carbon Transition Project, Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, Mobilise Your City…). Organisations, and particularly companies, are therefore strongly encouraged, not to say forced, to transform themselves.

How do you redesign your model? Where to start? What are the strategic levers to activate? These are all questions that are rarely answered in an appropriate and personalised manner. We multiply analyses and studies, we call on a number of external experts, yet no one knows a company better than those who work there every day. Why not trust yourself and take things in hand? At Circulab, we believe that any idea is good to exploit, you just need the right tools. That’s why we have developed a circular design method and decision support tools; so that you can be guided to take action while keeping a certain autonomy: the Circulab Toolbox.

Circulab’s circular design method enables solutions with multiple social, economic and environmental values to be found in response to complex problems. To deploy this method Circulab has developed tools that compose the Circulab Toolbox. Our method is inspired by biomimicry, design thinking and the strategy tools of Michael Porter or Alexander Osterwalder.

The Circulab Toolbox circular design tools are three tools designed, tested and improved by Circulab to help you address the issues of the 20th century with the circular and regenerative economy.

In this first article of the series, we introduce you to the Value Chain Canvas.  

To analyse its market: the Value Chain Canvas

Given the speed of change and the uncertainty not only of trends but also of regulations and practices, knowing one’s ecosystem is becoming increasingly complex. However, any company or project is part of a market governed by its own functioning, specificities and characteristics. It is therefore essential to study the ecosystem in which you are evolving: where are the opportunities hidden? What are the threats? What are the issues? Who are the major players? 

In the circular design method, we seek to identify the needs of the system in order to go further than just ‘user centric’ or ‘profit centric’. The first area of exploration is the market, because that is where the opportunities are that will bring profit. 

The Value Chain Canvas allows you to take a snapshot of your market by going beyond the direct economic or environmental aspect: integrate the notion of system function and loop the value cycles. In other words, this tool helps you to study all the major parameters of your system in order to identify the most relevant issues from an economic and environmental point of view.

What is the Value Chain Canvas?

The Value Chain Canvas is the tool that allows you to analyse your entire value chain. But what is a value chain? 

A value chain consists of the different steps/cycles that a company or organisation in a specific industry goes through to deliver a final product. It is essentially all the steps in which we have added value, from extraction to final delivery of the product. 

The Value Chain Canvas helps to understand how value is considered and shared along the chain. With this tool, you will be able to analyse your value chain to innovate and invest in what makes sense, but also to meet the needs of the user and the ecosystem on which you depend. Understanding and controlling the cycles and interactions that make up this chain are powerful tools for managing social, economic and ecological risks. This will enable you to anticipate threats of collapse to ensure that you develop sustainable projects and operate in robust supply chains. At the same time, you will identify opportunities related to industry needs to anchor yourself in time. 

What does this mean in practice?

As you will have understood, the Value Chain Canvas does not stop at the economic indicator alone, but takes a systemic approach. Thus, the stages related to the circular economy have been integrated at the end of the chain: repair and reconditioning, deposit or collection and finally the second use.

With the Value Chain Canvas, we help you collect accurate information, organise it and make sure you don’t forget any step.

You have three squares at the bottom left to define the parameters and the value chain you are analysing. In the centre, there are slots to collect information for each step in the chain. Then, on the left, there are two boxes reserved for your learning and assessment. Finally, it is a visual tool, easy to use and with little text, so that you can study the information collected according to the objective and the problem you want to solve and work on. 

The analysis can concern different levels of information. The first information that can be analysed are the elements that make up the steps: these can be resources, partners, the process of the step itself… In this way, you will get closer to other methods such as LCA, carbon footprint or Michael Porter analysis of the value chain. But this tool can also be a good way to investigate facts, figures or trends in the industry and market. So, it’s up to you!