Business design enables organizations to deliberately craft a business model to prove sustainability in the marketplace by validating the building blocks of a business model. The business designer can help an organization build a viable business model by readily testing its riskiest assumptions against the marketplace.
Aspect Explanation Role Overview A Business Designer is a professional who combines design thinking principles with business strategy to drive innovation, create value, and improve the overall performance of a business or organization. This role focuses on understanding customer needs, identifying opportunities, and designing solutions that align with the organization’s goals and objectives. Business Designers often work at the intersection of design, strategy, and entrepreneurship, aiming to bridge the gap between creative ideation and practical implementation in the business context. Key Responsibilities Business Designers have a range of responsibilities:
1. Design Thinking: Applying design thinking methodologies to identify and solve complex business problems.
2. Customer-Centricity: Putting the customer at the center of decision-making processes and designing solutions that meet their needs.
3. Opportunity Identification: Identifying market gaps, unmet customer needs, and emerging trends to uncover growth opportunities.
4. Solution Prototyping: Creating prototypes and models to visualize and test new business concepts.
5. Business Model Innovation: Designing and refining business models to adapt to changing market conditions.
6. Collaboration: Collaborating with cross-functional teams, including designers, engineers, marketers, and business leaders.
7. Project Management: Managing projects from ideation to implementation, ensuring alignment with strategic goals.
Methods and Tools Business Designers employ various methods and tools:
1. Design Thinking Workshops: Facilitating workshops to encourage creative problem-solving and idea generation.
2. Customer Research: Conducting user research, surveys, and interviews to gain insights into customer behaviors and preferences.
3. Persona Development: Creating detailed customer personas to inform product and service design.
4. Prototyping: Building prototypes to visualize and test business concepts before full-scale implementation.
5. Business Model Canvas: Using tools like the Business Model Canvas to map out and iterate on business models.
6. Co-Creation: Engaging stakeholders and customers in co-creation processes to develop solutions collaboratively.
7. Data Analysis: Analyzing market data, trends, and competitor information to inform business decisions.
Impact and Outcomes Business Designers have a significant impact on organizations:
1. Innovation: Driving innovation by identifying new business opportunities and designing creative solutions.
2. Customer Satisfaction: Improving customer satisfaction by creating products and services that meet user needs effectively.
3. Business Growth: Contributing to business growth through the development of new revenue streams and market expansion.
4. Competitive Advantage: Providing a competitive edge by designing unique value propositions and business models.
5. Adaptability: Enhancing an organization’s adaptability and resilience in the face of changing market dynamics.
6. Cross-Functional Collaboration: Promoting collaboration and a shared understanding of business goals among different teams and departments.
Challenges and Skills Challenges in the role of a Business Designer include managing ambiguity, fostering a culture of innovation, and effectively communicating design ideas to non-design stakeholders. Key skills for success in this role include creative problem-solving, empathy, strategic thinking, project management, and strong communication and collaboration abilities.
From design thinking to business design
In the world of design thinking, a process of iteration is put in place to seek the understanding of a key stakeholder: the user.
The primary goal is to iterate as quickly as possible on the assumptions made about what users want, and only when data is gathered and feedback is learned that the whole process makes the product improve.
Business design is built on the same premises of design thinking, with a primary difference.
Where design thinking helps build products users love. Business design helps entrepreneurs build organizations that thrive in the marketplace via innovation.
Business design definition
There isn’t a single definition of business design.
At its core, business design is about creating a long-term competitive advantage for an organization by designing business models that can be tested and turned into value creation machines.
Indeed, business design is the set of tools that help entrepreneurs build a value proposition that generates business value, delivered via an innovative business model, to capture value in the long term.
Why does business design matter?
In the current marketplace, dominated by digital innovation and new models, understanding business design can be the difference between building up a successful company.
Understanding the innovation circles
- Desirability is primarily about people and understanding their deep desire for a product or service
- Feasibility is about the functionality of a product or service and whether it can deliver on its value proposition
- And viability is primarily focused on the business side and whether it makes sense from the sustainability of the business
These circles’ aim is to test and prioritize the proper questions to build a sustainable business model.
How does a business design process work?
A business design process wants to translate assumptions about how a business should be into a business model prototype, that can be tested, and iterated in the marketplace.
One of the key elements of a business design process is the ability to isolate the assumptions that might make a business model thick in the marketplace. So that those assumptions can be tested and iterated.
Business designers take juicy, creative, human-centered innovation and make it succeed out there in the real world. We use strategy, analysis, and financial modeling as generative design tools, and help organizations turn their biggest, wildest ideas into businesses with long-term viability.
In short, a business designer is a strategist, analyst, and financial analyst able to turn insights into business models that turn out viable in the long-term
In a job description as a business designer, IDEO explains:
As a Business Designer, you will be ensuring that the viability of new concepts are thoroughly considered. In this capacity, you’ll work with the team to understand the client context, collect and interpret relevant data, develop insights, explore and define growth opportunities, define strategy, create tangible design expressions, communicate the vision, and ultimately help our clients get new offers to market.
Business designer salary
According to comparably.com, a business designer makes on average $65K in the US. According to glassdoor, an IDEO senior business designer makes $118,141 – $135,600 per year.
Business designer skills
A business designer has a mix of skills that go from analysis, business modeling, business model innovation, business development, and lean methodologies, and combines all those things to build successful businesses that create an impact in the world!
Business design examples
As we saw, business design is the design of business. It is an approach that combines the various tools of strategists, analysts, and thinkers with the methods and philosophies of design.
While it does incorporate aspects of design thinking and similar customer-centric approaches, business design has a broader focus on profitable business models.
This role has become widespread in recent years with many organizations unable to commercialize their designs and show a return on investment.
While the business design is a broad concept, we will provide some examples of how it is being used below to better explain its usefulness.
Vanderlande is a market leader in global logistics and airport systems automation that was acquired by Toyota Industries in 2017.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the company and the industry as a whole was impacted by a sustained increase in online eCommerce and volatile shifts in consumer purchase and travel behavior.
To future-proof the business, Vanderlande collaborated with a business design firm to create and launch a luggage-handling system based on self-driving vehicles.
The vehicles, which are collectively known as FLEET, use machine learning and data-driven solutions to optimize every aspect of the luggage-handling process.
They collect data on how many passengers are traveling, their final destination, and how much weight they are carrying.
Insights from these data are used by airports and airlines to better react to unexpected surges in travel demand.
The data can also be applied to analyze supply chain efficiency across multiple industries and enables airports to avoid over-investing in conveyor belt systems that are expensive and tend to be underutilized.
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson used business design to tackle the difficult challenge of providing healthcare for individuals in Myanmar with HIV.
Existing health systems were convoluted and did not cater to those who lived in rural or remote areas. Many were also subject to the stigma associated with contracting the virus.
To better understand the needs and context of the healthcare market in Myanmar, the company took a customer-centric approach by visiting patients in person and taking an empathic approach to their problems.
Johnson & Johnson then created an electronic medical record product that simplified the country’s complex health ecosystem and improved the lives of those living with HIV.
- One-stop clinics – which enabled all touchpoints of HIV treatment to occur at a single location.
- Cultural games – to spread awareness of HIV among the next generation.
- Self-sustainability – to help the community grow and combat HIV independently.
Philips recognized that millennial consumers – who were quickly becoming its largest market segment – were less concerned with shaving and more concerned with grooming.
In other words, traditional shaving products were no longer relevant.
The company worked with a business design firm to launch OneBlade, an innovative and revolutionary hybrid styler that could trim, shave, and create the clean lines millennial consumers desired.
This disruptive product required a similarly disruptive business design.
Subsequent innovative products for body hair and facial hair were also developed, marketed, and released.
Philips reached the 100 million blades sold milestone five years after OneBlade was launched.
- Business design is the design of business. It is an approach that combines the various tools of strategists, analysts, and thinkers with the methods and philosophies of design.
- To future-proof its logistics business, Vanderlande collaborated with a business design firm to create and launch a luggage-handling system based on self-driving vehicles. The data-driven solution allowed airlines and airports to better respond to demand fluctuations and move away from inefficient conveyor belt systems.
- Johnson & Johnson used customer-centric business design to deliver better health outcomes for HIV patients in Myanmar, while Philips used it to create a new category of personal care products from scratch.
Beyond Business Design: Welcome to the new era of Business Engineers
A business engineer combines the ability to deeply understand the technology (especially the underlying economic incentives/disincentives), comprehend how to distribute it, and the willingness to experiment fast and iterate to create closed customer feedback loops.
Thus, business engineering combines analytical skills, an overall business model strategy powered by market intuition, and a rapid experimentation workflow as a reality check.
In short, the business engineer, through experimentation, testing, interaction, and intuition, builds and helps build and grow businesses by reverse-engineering the core asset of a business.
A business engineer borrows the customer-centered approach from design thinking, but it brings it to another level with customer-obsession
One thing about Design Thinking is the customer-centered approach, which is also a foundational element of business engineering.
Indeed, in the Internet era, there is a practical reason to keep customers as the focus; they are a bottom-up force, able to shape markets in unpredictable ways.
Thus, you can have a top-down approach where you build and try to execute complex strategies.
Or, you can simply things up by focusing on customers.
This approach is way more scalable.
And it’s a sort of simplification heuristics that helps scale businesses over time.
Yet, business engineering brings this to the next level through a customer-obsession approach.
In other words, while the competition still matters a lot, in reality, customer obsession is a crucial ingredient to moving away from it in a non-linear fashion.
It enables you to create exponential opportunities with a bottom-up approach, which also becomes very hard to predict for your competitors.
And therefore, it destabilizes competition, levels up the game, and provides much more value to customers.
A business engineer borrows experimentation from business modeling
Another critical aspect is business modeling. It’s another foundational pillar of business engineering.
In short, the business engineer doesn’t take any truth for a given, and business modeling becomes helpful in testing these beliefs in the real world.
A business engineer starts by following the money, but it moves through the layer of a business to find its core asset
An excellent way for the business engineer to start understanding other businesses is to look at the outer layer: revenues.
However, the revenue model is just the starting point for guessing a business’s core strength.
And the business engineer peels off the various layers, moving from the revenue model to the financial model (understanding revenues in conjunction with the cost structure and cash generation) and the core moat (technology, product, distribution, and marketing).
A business engineer understands the intricacies of a complex system, where figuring out the problem is the real problem!
The business world is a complex system with a lot of noise, and the most difficult part is figuring out the problem at hand.
In short, the business engineer knows that customers are willing to enable the business model advantage of a company if that company is willing to innovate, which means figuring out the problems customers have.
In many cases, customers don’t know the problems they have, and they are not able to articulate those problems.
Therefore, the business engineer figures out ways to frame these problems and build valuable products around them.
A business engineer knows that competition in the short term is linear, while it becomes non-linear in the long-run
In a tech-first business world, competition is tricky.
Indeed, markets develop in a non-linear way in the long term.
In fact, while in the short-term, competition seems linear, in the long-term, unrelated markets tend to cross each other, and a few industries end up consolidating into one, which eats up the previous industries.
In this perspective, the business engineer knows that one thing is completed in the short term, and another is competition in the long run.
A business engineer’s primary mode is dynamic, second-order effects thinking
A business engineer knows that there is often no direct cause-relationship dynamic in a complex system, but things get more subtle.
In short, when you do something, that action might cascade at various levels of the business, thus creating complex dynamics.
A business engineer knows when to use an incremental approach and when a breakthrough approach is needed, instead
In many cases, a market moves according to incremental dynamics. This usually happens in markets that are consolidating.
And in that context, continuous improvement is all that matters.
Yet, when a market is saturated and new markets are developing around it, new complex dynamics kick in, and those require a breakthrough thinking approach.
Current processes, frameworks, and tools slowly, then suddenly stop working.
And a new mindset and a new set of tools and frameworks will be needed.
In the breakthrough scenario, lateral thinking, second-order thinking, and non-linear thinking become vital ingredients!
- Business Design Overview:
- Business design involves crafting a deliberate business model to ensure sustainability in the marketplace by validating its building blocks.
- Business designers help organizations test their riskiest assumptions against the market to build viable business models.
- Design Thinking and Business Design:
- Design thinking focuses on understanding users’ needs and iterating on product assumptions to improve products.
- Business design builds upon design thinking principles to help entrepreneurs create organizations that thrive through innovation.
- Business Design Definition:
- Business design aims to create a competitive advantage by designing testable business models that generate value over the long term.
- Importance of Business Design:
- Business models need continuous testing and iteration for sustainability and efficiency.
- In the digital era, understanding business design is crucial for building successful companies.
- Innovation Circles and Business Design Process:
- IDEO’s business design approach incorporates three circles: desirability, feasibility, and viability, which help prioritize questions for a sustainable business model.
- Business design process translates business assumptions into prototype models for testing and iteration.
- Role of a Business Designer:
- Business designers combine strategy, analysis, financial modeling, and creativity to turn innovative ideas into viable business models.
- Business Designer Skills and Salary:
- Business Design Examples:
- Vanderlande collaborated with a business design firm to create a luggage-handling system using self-driving vehicles for efficient airport logistics.
- Johnson & Johnson used business design to create a simplified electronic medical record product for HIV patients in Myanmar.
- Philips developed the OneBlade product and subscription business model to address millennial grooming needs.
- Introduction to Business Engineering:
- Business engineering combines technology understanding, distribution strategies, and rapid experimentation to create closed customer feedback loops.
- Business engineers focus on customer obsession, experimentation, and testing underlying assumptions.
- Business Engineering Principles:
- Business engineering combines analytical skills, business model strategy, and rapid experimentation to build and grow businesses.
- Business engineering uses dynamic, second-order thinking to navigate complex business systems.
- Linear vs. Non-Linear Competition:
- Business engineers recognize that competition becomes non-linear in the long run, with industries intersecting and consolidating over time.
- Importance of Breakthrough Thinking:
- In saturated markets, business engineers use breakthrough thinking for non-linear dynamics and complex scenarios.
- Lateral, second-order, and non-linear thinking are crucial for handling breakthrough challenges.
Other resources to design your business:
- Business Models
- Business Strategy: Definition, Examples, And Case Studies
- What Is a Business Model Canvas? Business Model Canvas Explained
- Blitzscaling Business Model Innovation Canvas In A Nutshell
- What Is a Value Proposition? Value Proposition Canvas Explained
- What Is a Lean Startup Canvas? Lean Startup Canvas Explained
What is Business Design?
Business design enables organizations to deliberately craft a business model to prove sustainability in the marketplace by validating the building blocks of a business model. The business designer can help an organization to build a viable business model by readily testing its riskiest assumptions against the marketplace.
Why design is important for business?
Business design helps entrepreneurs, managers, and executives craft business prototypes of how their business might look in the marketplace and test their hypotheses quickly. Therefore, helping business people craft experiments to test those hypotheses. That enables to build a successful business, quickly and cheaply to unlock growth and traction.
What is a business model example?
A business model is a framework for finding a systematic way to unlock long-term value for an organization while delivering value to customers and capturing value through monetization strategies. A business model is a holistic framework to understand, design, and test your business assumptions in the marketplace.
What is b2b business model?
In a B2C model, a business deals with other companies. Examples of B2B include companies like Salesforce and Dropbox, which usually sell to other businesses. The B2B model offers a product or service which is wired toward a smaller set of customers compared to B2B which has different features.
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