The Social Lean Canvas

Way back in 2013, Rowan Yeoman and I designed the Social Lean Canvas, which is based on Ash Maurya‘s Lean Canvas, which is in turn based on Alex Osterwalder‘s Business Model Canvas.

The Social Lean Canvas is a tool to help social entrepreneurs work out the key attributes of their very early stage ventures, and enumerate their key hypotheses so that they can be validated.

There are a few differences between the Social Lean Canvas and the Lean Canvas. The main difference is the “sandwich” addition of purpose and impact.

Kaila Colbin reminded me the other day that a good definition of a social enterprise is “a business that generates revenue through trade and uses the tools of business to achieve social outcomes.” The attributes of social purpose and impact are what turns an ordinary company into a social enterprise.

As you develop your very early stage idea for a social enterprise, you can use the Social Lean Canvas to continue to iterate the attributes of your venture as you learn more about your purpose, impact, problem, customer segments, solution, unique value proposition, unfair advantages, channels, key metrics, costs, and sustainability. As you learn more, you’ll want to enumerate more hypotheses about your venture to validate, as you approach product-market fit, sustainability, and ultimately delivering on your purpose.

You can download the Social Lean Canvas, and feel free to use it. It’s licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, so all we ask is that you get it out there and do good.