Tools (canvases) that are very useful when designing innovations and solving problems

Problem-solving in project design is a nontrivial and highly complex task. Before we arrive at the solution desired by all parties, we must analyze a series of variables such as user needs, business processes, competition, and growth and risk factors for the burgeoning business. 

In the cycle of the project process, Business Designers constantly ask questions and then seek answers. 

Who is our target group? What problem are we solving and what need are we addressing? How are customers currently dealing with this problem? In what business environment will we have to compete? What are the strengths and weaknesses of our organization? Around what value will we build the product or service? What will we earn money on? When will we find out if we are doing well or poorly? 

The market success that every customer dreams of largely depends on how well we understand the problem we are trying to solve. To organize the gathered knowledge and make the problem analysis more transparent, project teams use project canvases, proven tools that support the project process at every stage. Most often, these are diagrams printed on large cards or modules prepared in software supporting online workshop facilitation. 

Canvases are filled in by the moderator or workshop participants with information collected during its duration. Canvases are often used for individual work as tools supporting problem analysis. In many cases, they also become a form of project documentation. Their advantage over text documents is the visual form of presentation. Through the visual form, they help to develop a common vision of the problems, but also the solution. 

You don’t have to be a designer to use project canvases. Based on many years of project experience, the EDISONDA team has prepared an open version of project canvases, which can be successfully used in your project team or organization to solve project problems. We have annotated the canvases with instructions and grouped them according to the main stages of the project process, so you have no doubts when to use them. 



Canvases for the planning phase

The planning phase is one of the most important phases of the project process. Here we decide on the method of project implementation, team composition, and schedule. 


Timeline Canvas 

A tool supporting the planning process in the project or creating a roadmap. Very useful when two teams whose actions affect each other are cooperating. 

How to use the tool? 

  • Define the process you want to visualize using the timeline canvas 
  • Decide which side you will plan your actions on, and on which side the actions of the other team 
  • Using two colors of sticky notes (different for each team), place actions above and below the timeline in the chronology appropriate for the process 
  • Place tasks to be performed jointly using a third color directly on the timeline 
  • Discuss the plan of cooperation between the teams 
  • Go back to the plan during project implementation and record any changes on it 


Team Canvas 

A tool that facilitates contracting project teams around common goals. The Team Canvas allows you to present overarching goals for the project as well as individual goals and priorities of individuals. 

How to use the tool? 

  • Define the goal the team wants to achieve. This goal should be clear, specific, and measurable. 
  • Define the team’s mission. In this section, you should describe what the team does, for whom, and why. 
  • Define team values or the principles the team will follow in their work. 
  • Let each team member define their role. What skills and competencies will be required to perform tasks related to the role. 
  • Define the individual goals of each person and what actions should be taken to achieve them. 
  • Define team goals, i.e., those you want to achieve as a team. 
  • Set priorities, what is most important to you, and what tasks should be done first. Set priorities for individual and team goals. 
  • Define a plan of action based on goals and priorities. Specify who is responsible for carrying out individual tasks. 
  • Set metrics and indicators that will help you monitor progress in achieving goals. 
  • Use the Team Canvas during the project, referring to the goals and priorities outlined earlier. 


      Sailboat Canvas 

      A canvas supporting problem-solving in project teams (although not only). Thanks to the canvas, it becomes easier to map blockers and motivators influencing team performance. 

      How to use the tool? 

      • Give each workshop participant a few minutes to think about what in your company/team enables development and what holds you back. 
      • After identifying blockers and motivators, write them down on sticky notes and place them in the appropriate parts of the canvas. 
      • Let everyone talk about the notes they posted and the thoughts that led them to such and not other choices. 
      • Then, think together about how you can neutralize blockers and strengthen motivators 


        Canvases for the discovery phase

        This is a crucial phase for the project process. It is at this stage that we diagnose problems and try to understand their causes. It is in the DISCOVERY phase that we get to know our future users and competitors in business. 


        Ecosystem (Context) Map 

        The ecosystem map is a workshop tool that will allow you to better understand the context in which your potential product will operate. The tool focuses on factors such as competition, regulations, trends, and the environment. 

        How to use the tool? 

        • Divide the workshop participants into smaller teams. Assign each team to analyze one thematic area from the canvas. 
        • Using the internet and available sources, analyze the current situation in the given area in sub-teams. Consider how the current situation affects your company’s plans. 
        • Place your collected observations on the canvas in your dedicated area. 
        • Then, each group presents the current situation in the analyzed area and conclusions for 5-10 minutes. 
        • Use voting with the entire team to identify the key factors with the greatest potential to affect your business in the near future? 


          Empathy Map 

          The empathy map allows you to describe future customers by the way they perceive the environment. For the project team, it is a tool that increases the level of empathy with users for whom they create the product. 

          How to use the tool? 

          • Use the canvas as a place where you will note what you hear from users during the interview. 
          • Capture what the user says, thinks, and feels while talking about the experience with the product or the situation being analyzed. Transfer the noted observations to the canvas. Use quotes that you heard during the interview. 
          • Describe the actions taken by the user in contact with the product or the analyzed situation. 
          • Use the filled canvas as an illustration to better understand your future customers. Return to the empathy map at later stages of the process. 



            A persona is a simplified fictional character representing our typical user. It describes the goals, habits, and problems of users, essential from the perspective of the product being created. A persona should be based on previously conducted research, such as interviews with users or desk research. The created characters accompany us throughout the product creation process, reminding us of the perspective and needs of the users for whom we design solutions. 

            How to use the tool? 

            • Start by determining what the created persona is to serve. For example, should it help in developing a marketing campaign, or improving interactions with customers? 
            • Collecting data about the target group is crucial to create a credible persona. Data can come from market research, surveys, analysis of user behavior, etc. 
            • Based on the collected data, define basic information about the target group, such as age, gender, education, profession, etc. 
            • Give the persona a name and assign a photo to it to help better understand its character and features. 
            • Create a description of the persona, including the context in which it is located. The described context should refer to the problem you are solving. 
            • Identify the needs and fears that the persona feels in the analyzed context. 
            • Define key skills that influence the analyzed situation. 


                Customer Journey Map 

                This is one of the main techniques for mapping user behavior when using a product or service. Using a canvas allows us to clearly address the problem to the situation in which the user finds himself. As a result, we gain knowledge about what needs we should respond to at each stage of product use. 

                How to use the tool? 

                • Choose a persona around which you will create a customer journey map. If there are real customers at the workshop, invite them to co-create the map. 
                • First, define the key stages for the journey and place them in the top part of the canvas. 
                • Start mapping the journey by analyzing each stage in detail. Try to step into the role of the persona and look at the actions, encountered difficulties, and expectations from its perspective. 
                • Think about what actions can support the customer at each stage of the journey? What actions can reduce or eliminate the difficulties that may be encountered? 


                  Service Blueprint 

                  This is an extension of the ‘Customer Journey Map’ technique to include actions taken by the organization during the customer’s journey. These actions are often invisible to users, but significantly affect the functioning and efficiency of the services provided. 

                  How to use the tool? 

                  • Define the goal and scope of the service and divide it into steps. 
                  • Identify all interactions with your company undertaken by customers at each of the steps (website visit, phone call, payment made). 
                  • Define the actions your company (key departments, or people) takes to support the user in carrying out his activities. 
                  • Determine the tools or technologies used at each step of the process. 
                  • Set quality standards and success metrics that your company is striving for at each step of the process. 
                  • Analyze the data in terms of the necessity and efficiency of the actions performed by your organization. 
                  • Think about how you can solve diagnosed problems or fill gaps in the process. 


                  Cover Story Canvas 

                  A projection canvas that uses the metaphor of a magazine cover to visualize the goals and aspirations of an organization or initiative. 

                  How to use the tool? 

                  • Ask participants to imagine what success means for your company and what effects would be the hallmarks of its achievement. 
                  • Let everyone spend a few minutes working independently, imagining what signs will indicate success. 
                  • Then, give each participant 30-45 minutes to design the dream cover of a popular industry magazine. The cover should describe the achieved success as accurately as possible, its hallmarks, people or company departments responsible for the success. 
                  • Ask participants to present their visions to the rest of the group. Give everyone 5-10 minutes to share their cover. 
                  • Note all common visions. Propose a discussion about the future and ways to achieve it. 


                    Canvases for ideation phase

                    This is the moment in the project when, based on the collected and analyzed information from the discovery phase, we make the first project decisions. These are not yet visual decisions, but rather prototypes of product or service ideas, business model hypotheses, prototypes describing user behavior in reality after the appearance of a new product. 


                    Value Proposition Canvas 

                    With the help of the VPC canvas, we can easily and clearly compare user problems and expectations with possible ways to solve them. During this exercise, each solution to the problem should build the value that our product should deliver. 

                    How to use the canvas? 

                    • Think about how many key roles (users/customers) will use your product. Prepare an individual canvas for each role. 
                    • Start filling in the canvas from the right side, which maps the current state of user experiences. At this time, the other part of the canvas can remain covered to not distract workshop participants. 
                    • Start describing in detail the tasks/actions (Jobs to be done) that make up the current user experience. Think about what emotions accompany the execution of these tasks. Focus on the problems and fears (Pain) that accompany the user, and then on the expectations/dreams that he associates with performing tasks (Gain). 
                    • Go to the left side. First, think about how your product can contribute to solving diagnosed problems (Pain relievers). The solutions should become the functional base of your product. Then think about what solutions will support the realization of expectations/dreams (Gain creators). These functionalities will bring additional value to the user. 
                    • In the space intended for the product, list its functions that will support problem solutions (Pain relievers) and the realization of expectations (Gain creators). 


                      Business Model Canvas 

                      Filling in the Business Model Canvas helps visualize a number of hypotheses about future business. The filled business model canvas accompanies us in the further process of creating a product and evolves as we verify individual hypotheses and assumptions contained in it. 

                      How to use the tool? 

                      • Define the value propositions you offer to your customers and their needs you meet. 
                      • Define your target groups/customer segments, consider their needs. 
                      • Define the distribution channels you use in delivering your product. 
                      • Define your relationships with customers, how do you build them? How do you maintain them? What channels do you use? 
                      • Define your partners and consider who and how can help in implementing your business. 
                      • Define the actions you take that allow your business to be realized. 
                      • Define the resources you have to implement your business idea. 
                      • Define sources of income. How will your business earn, where will you get funds. 
                      • Define all current and future costs generated by maintaining and developing your business. 
                      • Check if all the elements fit together and form a coherent whole. 



                          Lean Canvas 

                          This is a simplified form of the Business Model Canvas, primarily aimed at newly established business ventures. 

                          • Identify the problem you want to solve, then enter it in the central part of the Lean Canvas. 
                          • Fill in the customer section, specifying who your target audience is and what’s important to them. 
                          • Define the value proposition for customers, i.e., what you offer your customers and the problems you solve. 
                          • Proceed to the product development section and describe what features of your product or service are key to success. 
                          • In the distribution channels section, identify how you will reach your target market and how you will distribute your product or service. 
                          • In the income sources section, define your main sources of income and your financial forecasts. 
                          • Proceed to the cost section, defining what will be the costs associated with production, distribution, and marketing of your product or service. 
                          • In the key metrics section, define how you will measure the success of your business and what your goals are. 
                          • Fill in the risks section, i.e., the risk factors that could affect your business strategy. 
                          • Review your Lean Canvas filling and consult with the team or other experts to get their opinion and make adjustments. 


                              Validation Canvas 

                              This is a tool that will help you evaluate and select the most promising business idea. Using a range of business parameters reflected on the canvas, you objectively analyze all the ideas generated in the workshop. 

                              How to use the tool? 

                              • Select one of the ideas you want to evaluate. 
                              • Use the scales on the canvas to assess the idea in terms of key business parameters. 
                              • Similarly, evaluate each of the ideas that emerged in the IDEATION phase. 
                              • Compare the results of validation. For the next phase, choose the ideas that have achieved the best results on the scales. 


                              Canvases for design phase

                              At this stage, our ideas take on a tangible character. In the design phase, we specify the functional assumptions and define the scope of our project. 


                              User Stories Canvas 

                              The User Stories canvas allows us to take on the role of the system user and describe their main needs in a language understandable to all. Such collected requirements then allow to define the functional scope of the designed product. 

                              • Choose one of the roles/persons using your product. 
                              • Consider what are the main needs of the chosen persona. 
                              • Consider what functionality of your product supports the fulfillment of these needs. 
                              • Use the form I user, want <action>, to <fulfill need>. 
                              • Deepen user stories by specifying functional requirements that facilitate the achievement of the user’s need. 
                              • Assign priorities to individual user stories to define the main and supporting features of the product. 


                                Job Stories Canvas 

                                The Job Stories Canvas allows us to map user needs in relation to the context in which they find themselves. Needs are not assigned to a specific role as in user stories but to situations and expected results of their solution. The fuel for job stories is not system functions, but user motivations. 

                                • Define the situation in which the user will use your product. 
                                • Determine what are the user’s motivations, what he wants to achieve or what needs to secure. 
                                • Pay special attention to the context in which the user uses your product. 
                                • Define the expected results that the user wants to achieve using your product in a given context. 
                                • Formulate job stories using the form, ‘When’ (specific situation) ‘I want’ (specific task) ‘to’ (specified expected effect). 


                                  Experiment Canvas 

                                  The canvas supports the design and conduct of an experiment. On the canvas, we visualize our hypotheses, experiment parameters, and its results. 

                                  How to use the tool? 

                                  • Review the sections on the left side of the canvas. First, come up Lean Canvas 


                                  MoSCoW Canvas 

                                  MoSCoW answers the question of which features in our product are crucial to implement – which will bring the most benefits to the user and the company, and which are an addition that we can introduce later or not at all. 

                                  How to use the tool? 

                                  • Prepare a list of requirements that will be subject to analysis. 
                                  • Make sure that each requirement is unambiguous and understandable for the entire team. 
                                  • Go through all the requirements and then discuss with the team to determine which requirements are most important. 
                                  • Determine the priority of each requirement within each category. Requirements in the ‘must-have’ category are absolute priorities, while requirements in the ‘should-have’ and ‘could-have’ categories are progressively less important. Requirements in the ‘won’t-have’ category are not included in the project. 
                                  • Make a final evaluation and approve the prioritized list of requirements with the team. 


                                  Impact/Effort Matrix Canvas 

                                  This is another method for prioritizing product features or regular project activities. Using the canvas and operating on dimensions of importance and urgency, we can easily determine which features of the designed product deserve our attention first. 

                                  How to use the tool? 

                                  • Prepare a list of ideas/features/solutions that you want to validate. 
                                  • Consider the benefits of implementing a potential solution and the effort required to achieve it. 
                                  • Place the idea in the quadrant that best describes the solution in terms of benefits and effort. 
                                  • Discuss the results of the exercise with the team and the conclusions for the project. 


                                  SWOT Canvas 

                                  This canvas will help you in analyzing and organizing information about your company or the product you are creating or selling. Using SWOT, you will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your organization and identify market opportunities and threats. The name of the technique is an acronym for the areas that will be analyzed. 

                                  How to use the tool? 

                                  • In the “Strengths” quadrant, identify internal factors in which your organization or project excels, such as unique skills, resources, or competitive advantage. 
                                  • In the “Weaknesses” quadrant, identify internal factors that need improvement, such as lack of resources or knowledge, or negative perception. 
                                  • In the “Opportunities” quadrant, identify external factors that can positively impact your organization or project, such as market trends, partnerships, or new technologies. 
                                  • In the “Threats” quadrant, identify external factors that could negatively affect your organization or project, such as competitors, economic conditions, or changing regulations. 
                                  • Analyze the identified factors and rank them according to importance and impact on your organization or project. 
                                  • Based on priority factors, develop action plans to leverage your strengths, address weaknesses, exploit opportunities, and mitigate threats. 


                                    Canvases for the market fit phase

                                    This is the phase in which we monitor the functioning of our implemented product on the market to best adapt it to the real user this time. 


                                    Heart Framework Canvas 

                                    An efficiency canvas built around metrics focused on the user using the product. The results collected with the help of the canvas should then be used in the decision-making process regarding product development. 

                                    • Set business goals for your product. 
                                    • Define metrics for each goal that will allow measuring progress in achieving goals. 
                                    • Fill out the HEART Framework, defining metrics for each of the five categories. 
                                    • In the Happiness category, define how satisfied users are with your product or service. 
                                    • In the Engagement category, define how often users use your product or service and how long they remain engaged with it. 
                                    • In the Adoption category, define how quickly users adopt your product or service and how easy it is for them to get acquainted with it. 
                                    • In the Retention category, define how long users stay with your product or service and how often they return to it. 
                                    • In the Task Success category, define how well users achieve their goals using your product or service. 
                                    • Use the results of measuring metrics in the HEART Framework to make improvements and enhance your products or services. 



                                        These are just selected canvases that Business Designers use during the design process. Their advantage is that anyone can use them, so we encourage you to test them while solving problems in your projects. With canvases at hand, you can feel confident when facing problems in your projects.



                                        Want to find out how we can improve your business idea using those canvases? Let's talk!

                                          Do you wish to receive the latest information related to the topics of business and innovation design, as well as information about Edisonda's activities, projects, and offers?

                                          Please select the channel through which we can contact you (consent is voluntary):

                                          Information provided in the form will be used only in order to reach back to you. Contents of the correspondence might be archived. More details could be found in our privacy policy.

                                          Michał Madura
                                          Senior Business Design Consultant

                                          +48505016712 +48505016712