Topic outline

  • Welcome to Business Model Design Course!


      • Course will start on week 10, first lecture Monday 7th at 12.15.
      • Thursday 7.4 CLASSROOM workshop held in room Q202 Ryhmäopetus 9.15-11.00.
    • Virtual workshop uses the same Zoom address as the Monday lectures.
            • Zoom link and information for all the sessions:

              • Meeting ID: 621 6503 5614, Passcode: 064452

            • Basic information

              • Business Model Design, 26E04350, AALTO BIZ
              • Teaching language: English
              • Credits: 5-6 ECTS
              • Teaching period IV
              • Master's level course
              • It is recommended to take this course during the first year of IDBM studies
              • It is also recommended to take IDBM Challenge (JOIN-E7006) before this course
              • One should take this course before Industry project course (JOIN-E7005)(does not apply to Sugar/Global project teams!)
              • Minimum of 70% participation needed due to interactive tasks
              • You must attend the first session to ensure your place in the course

              Connection to IDBM programme

              Business Model Design connects transdisciplinary thinking to business model context. The approach is both theoretical (mostly individual assignments) and practical (mostly in interactive tasks done in the workshops). The aim of all this is to form a holistic picture of business model design, especially from design management perspective.

              The course acknowledges that most of the students already know something about business development, and some students have a lot of business expertise. However, a common theoretical backbone is needed, as well as a common language (concept hierarchy), and a common set of tools.

              Teaching methods

              Teaching methods emphasize interactive and reflective techniques.

              Each week is divided to keynote and discussion day (Mondays) and workshop and reflection days (Thursdays). Thursday workshops are divided to two groups to facilitate more efficient mentoring and more extensive discussions during workshops, and to accommodate different study mode preferences (virtual/physical). Students must select from two different workshop times when they enroll the course.

              Evaluation and deliverables

              In evaluation, the teaching team focuses in the level of critical and reflective thinking and communication. Connecting theoretical knowledge and practical examples is a strong merit. Biggs model (1991) is used in assessment (see more information on instroduction slides).

              Course deliverables include: 1) weekly journals (student can select from different journal styles 2) active participation and 3) take-home exam (larger independent writing task).

              Course structure

              Course content is divided to modules: one week is one module, as follows:

              • MODULE 1: Detrivializing shared value
              • MODULE 2: What it takes to put value first
              • MODULE 3: Resilience and adaptability in business models
              • MODULE 4: Platform business models
              • MODULE 5: Sustainable business model innovation and course summary

              Course schedule:

            28.2.-6.3 NO TEACHING!
            Everyone needs a break after the exam week :)

            7.3.-13.3. Module 1
            Monday 12-14. Thursday (two different groups - you will select one)
    21.3.-27.3. Module 3
    Monday 12-14. Thursday (two different groups - you will select one)

    28.3.-3.4. Module 4
    Monday 12-14. Thursday (two different groups - you will select one)

    4.4.-10.4. Module 5
    Monday 12-14. Thursday (two different groups - you will select one)

    11.4- 17.4 EXAM WEEK (Time to return take home exam)

    • Deliverable schedule

      • Individual journal deadline each week, DL the each sunday before the monday lecture module
      • Take-home exam: Questions published on Monday of the evaluation week; Deadline on Sunday of the evaluation week.

      Core content analysis


    • Thursday CLASSROOM workshop held in room M202 Ryhmäopetus 9.15-11.00

    • Themes: Platforms as ecosystem-level business models. Platforms, panaceas, and critical thinking. Developing existing platforms and building new ones
    • Learning objectives: Identifying the core concepts of platforms as ecosystem-level business models; Identifying and comparing different approaches to platform economy; Identifying and applying ecosystem business model design tools


    MONDAY 28.3


    • Cusumano, Michael A; Yoffie, David B; Gawer, Annabelle. The Future of Platforms. MIT Sloan Management Review; Cambridge Vol. 61, Iss. 3, (Spring 2020): 46-54.
    • Van Alstyne, M. W., Parker, G. G., & Choudary, S. P. (2016). Pipelines, platforms, and the new rules of strategy. Harvard business review, 94(4), 54-62.
    • if you can't access the HBR articles, here is direct link (only for use in this course):

    Notes: These two  articles give you not only a nice synthesis on the main concepts related to platform business models, but also an excellent picture on how platform thinking has evolved during the last 4-5 years.

    Monday materials
    • Slides
    • Thursday workshop cases and groups 
    • Recording Link:


    THURSDAY 31.3


    • Auvinen, H., Dufva, M., & Koivisto, R. (2018). Metaphors to describe and explore platform company strategies. Available at:

    Notes: We will be running a platform design workshop on Thursday, and this paper gives an interesting twist to that exercise! Heidi, Mikko and Raija are Ville's colleagues from VTT, and they have used Futures thinking methods to analyze weak signals from platform domain since 2011. One of the results is this cool application of organizational metaphors (from Morgan) to platform design. The metaphors give us a both critical and futures-oriented thinking frame, especially with regards to platforms' purposes in the business and society.

    Workshop instruction videos:

    Thursday materials and recordings
    • Thursday Miro-board:

  • Updated 8.4.2022


    Answer to 4 questions (write total 4 essays)

    1. Search a value proposition of any firm and analyze it with the help of the course material. In your essay, discuss the key points of your analysis and explain how that given value proposition could possibly be improved.

    2. Discuss the concept of "shared value" and how business models may create or destroy such value? Use concrete examples, and frameworks.

    3. Discuss "resilience" by selecting a case firm and give examples of two disruptive events that might happen in the firm's environment. How the firm can be prepared for these?

    4. Discuss the concept of “sustainable business models”. How do you identify and approach sustainability in business model design?

    5. What is business model innovation and why it is important for firms?

    6. You are hired as a business model designer to a firm and given freedom to design your own work role responsibilities. Create a job description and explain why the suggested tasks are chosen for this role. Remember to specify the purpose, size and industry of this hypothetical firm to give context.



    Timelines, q&a about the questions

    • Questions are published in this page 8.4.2022
    • You can ask questions about the questions until Monday 11.4. 14.00 (Finnish time). Send your questions to, the answers will be published in this page 11.4.2022
    • Absolute deadline for submissions is 17.4. 23.59.00. No late submission allowed.

    Answering the questions, evaluation

    • There are 6 questions in total.
    • Please choose 4 questions to answer (write 4 essays). DO NOT ANSWER MORE THAN 4 QUESTIONS.
    • Each essay is valued max 10 points (Together max 40 points in total)
    • Exam is an individual task
    • The evaluation will be done according to your ability to analyze and reflect the readings and other material, to show case examples and/or individual experiences, as well as to synthetize and combine different sources of information (same criteria as with the reflective journals)

    Content of the answers

    • The length of each essay should be approximately 300-600 words. This is a recommendation, but usually this is enough for complete analysis.
    • Providing appropriate references is critical! (Here is a good citation guide:
    • Definitions for concepts, theories, frameworks, etc. should be given with appropriate references.
    • Copy-paste the question to your answer
    • Follow academic writing style
    • Note that the questions are quite extensive. Therefore, in each essay, it is important to state why you have chosen certain perspective in your answer, and what that perspective means for your answer.

    Turnitin use, submission

    • Please note that your submission is analyzed by Turnitin (which will detect e.g. plagiarizing). Draft version submission is possible (you can see the plagiarism check results before final submit). If you quote some statements etc. directly, do it properly with referencing.
    • All times Finnish time


    Q&A (updated 8.4., contains q&a from previous years)

    Should I submit 4 different PDF files, or save all my essays to one file?

    - You should submit all your essays as one document.

    I've written a reflection essay on the same topic, can I use this framework as long as I don't quote myself but instead write new text and further analysis around the framework?

    - Yes, exactly like that:) You can write about the same topic, but it have to be new text and content.

    Is it ok to use the case companies that I already used in the reflective journals.

    - Yes, you can use the same case companies. However, the exam answers should be understood without any knowledge about your previous assignments.

    Is it ok to take benefit from the already submitted essays (reflective journals).

    - Autoplagiarizing (copypasting own text) is not ok. Further developing own thinking is of course ok. However, the exam answers should be understood without any knowledge about your previous assignments (do not, for example, "cite" or refer to previous journals).

    About the selection of a firm case: can we select a firm that does not exist anymore (e.g Enron) or should we focus only on contemporary firms?

    - You can use any case(s) you find appropriate. Please describe the case(s) shortly, do not assume that the reader knows the case(s). 

    Can we repeat the same type of journal more than one time? Or it’s not necessary that we follow a journal type?

    - Journal type restrictions do not apply in the exam. You don't have to follow any particular format. You can use the formats if you want, of course. And you can use one format as many times as you like.

    Can I refer e.g. to answer two in answer one, etc. Can I combine answers?

    One question - one answer. One should be able to understand each answer independently, without reading other answers. 

    Other FAQs:

    Do I have to stick with my Thursday workshop selection or can I change my participation weekly?

    I principle, you choose the timeslot that fits best to you through the whole course, but send email ( if you would need to change your slot some week.

    How extensive is the take home exam, how much time do I need to complete the essays?

    The exam has 4 essays, each are about a page long. If you have understood and reflected all the material during the course and you are able to write well, it should not take longer than 2-3h. However, it is difficult to estimate the time spent in each case as we have different writing skills, information processing skills and other traits that impact our efficiency in exam situations. Weekly essays will be good time to practice essay writing.

  • This assignment is for ONLY those students that would like to get 1cr extra (6cr total) from this course.

    Choose one of the following themes. Read the listed articles and write reflection essay based on the key findings and your own reflection. Similar to regular weekly essays, choose a style of writing and indicate that on top of your essay. Please note that there are more essays to reflect on, thus the length of the essay should be a bit more than the weekly essays (appr.2-3 pages). 


    • Vanhaverbeke, W., & Chesbrough, H. (2014). A classification of open innovation and open business models. New frontiers in open innovation6, 50-68.
    • Chesbrough, H. (2004). Managing open innovation. Research-Technology Management47(1), 23-26.
    • Dahlander, L., & Gann, D. M. (2010). How open is innovation?. Research policy, 39(6), 699-709.


    • Christensen, C. M., Verlinden, M., & Westerman, G. (2002). Disruption, disintegration and the dissipation of differentiability. Industrial and corporate change, 11(5), 955-993.
    • Tripsas, M., & Gavetti, G. (2000). Capabilities, cognition, and inertia: Evidence from digital imaging. Strategic management journal, 21(10‐11), 1147-1161.
    • Christensen, Reynor. M & McDonald, R. (2015). What is Disruptive Innovation? Harvard Business Reviw. Available at: