What is the Idea Napkin?

The Idea Napkin is a tool for people who want to start and lead something impactful – whether it’s a trendy restaurant, a high tech venture, a social business, any old project at work, or a personal project of passion.

It’s for those of us still sitting on a bit of a hunch, who don’t know where to take it next. It’s for the quiet leaders among us mustering up the courage to leap on one of so many ideas. And it’s for you if you’re already working on something that you want to make better.

Begin by literally sketching your idea on the back of a napkin – but with some help and a little bit of discipline.

Let me use it now for free! »

Welcome (back)!

Access to the Creative Commons tools and a lot of the content on our site(s) is completely free. We just ask that you sign in / sign up using an existing social account. To do this, click one of the icon(s) below:


This will take you to their sign in tools - we'll never see your password and you won't have to create and remember yet another one. This is for convenience but it's also to keep the sign in process as secure as possible.

This is handled at arm's length and all we ask to receive from your provider is your name and email address so we can uniquely identify you. We know how important that information is to you - we use websites too. And you have our commitment to protecting and always respecting your privacy.


In turn, by signing in you're agreeing to our terms of use (including privacy policy and license agreement) found here »


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Get your idea written down!

One of the biggest challenges smart, hard working people face when they want to start something is actually starting it – we’re often scared or unsure about how to take that first step. The Idea Napkin gets you over this psychological hurdle by providing a canvas for your idea and by taking you through it step by step.

Clarify and advance your thinking

Unlike the back of a real napkin, this tool helps you work through the key components of a good early-stage idea – using best practices in entrepreneurship and innovation. By understanding and working through each of these areas, you can clarify and advance your thinking.

Collaborate and get feedback on your idea

You can use our Virtual Design Space or Google Docs versions of the Idea Napkin to easily share your idea with others, to collaborate with your team, and to get the feedback you need to make the idea even stronger. (Or – if you prefer kicking it old school over a cup of coffee – you can print the PDF version and work though your idea by hand.)

Do you teach / coach tomorrow’s leaders?
Do you teach / coach tomorrow’s leaders?

This is a great tool for facilitating a conversation with an employee, manager, innovator, or entrepreneur. It guides conversations, forms the basis of a lesson, captures and defines ideas within a portfolio, and boosts a practical ideation or strategy session.

What's under the hood?

  • Free canvases (templates) for the Idea Napkin (in PDF and Google Docs formats)
  • Free advanced templates for use as you progress (also in PDF and Google Docs formats)
  • Explicit relationships to related tools such as the Value Proposition Wheel, the Idea Model, and those for assessing your idea
Let me use it now for free! »

Welcome (back)!

Access to the Creative Commons tools and a lot of the content on our site(s) is completely free. We just ask that you sign in / sign up using an existing social account. To do this, click one of the icon(s) below:


This will take you to their sign in tools - we'll never see your password and you won't have to create and remember yet another one. This is for convenience but it's also to keep the sign in process as secure as possible.

This is handled at arm's length and all we ask to receive from your provider is your name and email address so we can uniquely identify you. We know how important that information is to you - we use websites too. And you have our commitment to protecting and always respecting your privacy.


In turn, by signing in you're agreeing to our terms of use (including privacy policy and license agreement) found here »


close-link

Also available to you and your team:

  • Versions for use in our Virtual Design Space
  • Related courses and mini-courses
  • Educator and coaching resources