Planning Tools & Frameworks

Planning tools used by the private, public and civil sectors

When you’re setting up your multi-stakeholder collaboration unit or alliance, the right planning tools and frameworks help you to move from concept to operationalising, and to establish core elements like your mission, vision and strategy. Tools and frameworks for developing these elements include the Business Model Canvas (BMC) or Social Enterprise Business Model Canvas, Theory of Change, and numerous public sector planning frameworks.

Key Takeaways

  • Planning tools can intersect and complement each other and serve different purposes at different stages of your hub, department or alliance.
  • Asia P3 Hub used a social impact-focused BMC, traditional BMC, and Theory of Change.
  • Don’t be limited to the frameworks specific to your sector.

Business Model Canvas

As the name suggests, Business Model Canvas (BMC) is a tool used to develop business strategy and business models. The BMC allows you to move from concept into actualising and operationalising your department or organisation.

Essentially it’s a framework for creating a business plan, that is distilled down into one page. It is agile, and puts the customer very much at the centre of your planning.

From when you’re getting started, to when you’re operationalising, a lot of the components of your business plan may change. The BMC is great tool for iterating and refining components of your business and operations plan as you go.

BMC answers the Why, When, How and What. If you want to start a business or product line, you will need to be able to answer all of these questions. Developing the BMC is a useful process in order to be able to easily explain the various elements of your business plan to your investors, your colleagues, and partners.

If you’re not able to fill out all of the fields of the BMC, it means you need to revisit these areas of your business plan.

Asia P3 Hub used the BMC in our early planning for the purpose of developing an initial frame around what we were going to do, and we loved the agility of the BMC. We later used the Social Enterprise Business Model Canvas.

Social Enterprise Business Model Canvas

Social enterprises focus on the impact they create for beneficiaries as opposed to creating profits. Therefore, the social impact-focused framework takes this into account and provides building blocks to consider strategic alignment in both the business and social aspects of their social business.

We used both a social impact-focused BMC as well as referencing the traditional BMC in our initial ‘getting organised’ process. The Hub’s framework was kickstarted through a series of three multi-sector co-creation workshops - we brought together diverse stakeholders to explore the different building blocks of the social business model canvas.

And then we used Theory of Change to develop our organisational strategy further down the track, and we found that the tools complemented each other, and fulfilled different purposes for our hub.

The tools your unit, network or alliance use may be largely determined by the sector you’re operating in - people, public or private - but it’s also important not to be limited to the frameworks specific to your sector.

The Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) has developed a Social Enterprise Business Model Canvas to be used by social enterprises, which you can download from their website. And they also offer excellent training and events for those in the social impact space.

And Tandemic has also developed a Social business model canvas and other resources for social enterprises.

Business Model Canvas versus Theory of Change

The Business Model Canvas (BMC) is often used by the private sector to help us understand how businesses operate, i.e. it’s suited to the profit-driven sector whereas Theory of Change (ToC) helps us understand how the non-profit sector operates. See our Theory of Change module for more on this tool.

Our Hub adapted BMC in its early stage to guide through ambiguity as we worked to define our operating models, stakeholders and strategies. For an entity like the Hub, which focuses on social impact as well as self-sustaining through revenue generation, we felt both BMC and ToC were useful tools. It doesn’t have to be either-or. In fact, we found that using both tools helped us be focused and stay on track. The two complemented each other.

Where BMC and TOC Intersect

If you overlay the ToC over the BMC, you will find that:

  • Both ask similar questions such as what problem we are trying to solve, what are the strategies to solve the problem, who is the target population or clients in the business sense, what resources will be needed, etc.
  • ToC helps develop organisation’s value proposition.
  • BMC helps us understand how profit driven businesses operate – profit-driven.
  • Theory of Change helps us understand how the non-profit sector operates – purpose-driven.
  • Both can be combined for purpose-driven businesses.

Public Sector Planning Frameworks

In the public sector there are numerous planning frameworks used, and many national governments, and individual departments within those governments, have developed their own unique approaches to planning government services and programs.

For example, the Singapore public sector has adapted ‘futures thinking’ and ‘scenario planning’ from Shell for its strategic planning. Drawing on a tool that was used by the Planning Department of Shell in the 1970s and 1980s, Singapore’s Public Service extended the use of scenario planning to look at long-term policy and strategic development. And Singapore’s Centre for Strategic Futures (CSF) has further adapted this framework, developing what it calls “Scenario Planning Plus” (SP+), that retains Scenario Planning as its core, but taps into a broader suite of tools for planning.

The French government transformed its public sector with a focus on simplicity, based on metrics that looked at the simplicity for businesses and citizens to interact with its public services.


Here are some key resources for various Planning Tools & Frameworks. Our downloadable Hub-in-a-Box guide also includes useful and relevant tools. And we’ve compiled additional tools and resources, that Asia P3 Hub has found the most useful in its journey so far on the resources section of the Asia P3 Hub website.