What Is A Business Designer? Business Design In 2023

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.



Role OverviewA 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 ResponsibilitiesBusiness 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 ToolsBusiness 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 OutcomesBusiness 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 SkillsChallenges 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?

A business model is not a perfect creation. While that is the tool to capture value in the long run, it also needs to be tweaked and tested over and over again, to make it sustainable. Thus, business design helps enhance the process of business model testing so that a sustainable business model can be built more efficiently.

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

One of the prevailing methodologies for business design and innovation is IDEO’s approach, based on three primary 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.

What does a business designer do?
Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.
As pointed out on IDEO:

Key Highlights

  • 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 designers possess skills in analysis, business modeling, innovation, lean methodologies, and more.
    • Business designers’ salaries can vary, with senior positions earning higher wages.
  • 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:

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.

FourWeekMBA Business Toolbox

Business Engineering


Tech Business Model Template

A tech business model is made of four main components: value model (value propositions, missionvision), technological model (R&D management), distribution model (sales and marketing organizational structure), and financial model (revenue modeling, cost structure, profitability and cash generation/management). Those elements coming together can serve as the basis to build a solid tech business model.

Web3 Business Model Template

A Blockchain Business Model according to the FourWeekMBA framework is made of four main components: Value Model (Core Philosophy, Core Values and Value Propositions for the key stakeholders), Blockchain Model (Protocol Rules, Network Shape and Applications Layer/Ecosystem), Distribution Model (the key channels amplifying the protocol and its communities), and the Economic Model (the dynamics/incentives through which protocol players make money). Those elements coming together can serve as the basis to build and analyze a solid Blockchain Business Model.

Asymmetric Business Models

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus have a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility.

Business Competition

In a business world driven by technology and digitalization, competition is much more fluid, as innovation becomes a bottom-up approach that can come from anywhere. Thus, making it much harder to define the boundaries of existing markets. Therefore, a proper business competition analysis looks at customer, technology, distribution, and financial model overlaps. While at the same time looking at future potential intersections among industries that in the short-term seem unrelated.

Technological Modeling

Technological modeling is a discipline to provide the basis for companies to sustain innovation, thus developing incremental products. While also looking at breakthrough innovative products that can pave the way for long-term success. In a sort of Barbell Strategy, technological modeling suggests having a two-sided approach, on the one hand, to keep sustaining continuous innovation as a core part of the business model. On the other hand, it places bets on future developments that have the potential to break through and take a leap forward.

Transitional Business Models

A transitional business model is used by companies to enter a market (usually a niche) to gain initial traction and prove the idea is sound. The transitional business model helps the company secure the needed capital while having a reality check. It helps shape the long-term vision and a scalable business model.

Minimum Viable Audience

The minimum viable audience (MVA) represents the smallest possible audience that can sustain your business as you get it started from a microniche (the smallest subset of a market). The main aspect of the MVA is to zoom into existing markets to find those people which needs are unmet by existing players.

Business Scaling

Business scaling is the process of transformation of a business as the product is validated by wider and wider market segments. Business scaling is about creating traction for a product that fits a small market segment. As the product is validated it becomes critical to build a viable business model. And as the product is offered at wider and wider market segments, it’s important to align product, business model, and organizational design, to enable wider and wider scale.

Market Expansion Theory

The market expansion consists in providing a product or service to a broader portion of an existing market or perhaps expanding that market. Or yet, market expansions can be about creating a whole new market. At each step, as a result, a company scales together with the market covered.



Asymmetric Betting


Growth Matrix

In the FourWeekMBA growth matrix, you can apply growth for existing customers by tackling the same problems (gain mode). Or by tackling existing problems, for new customers (expand mode). Or by tackling new problems for existing customers (extend mode). Or perhaps by tackling whole new problems for new customers (reinvent mode).

Revenue Streams Matrix

In the FourWeekMBA Revenue Streams Matrix, revenue streams are classified according to the kind of interactions the business has with its key customers. The first dimension is the “Frequency” of interaction with the key customer. As the second dimension, there is the “Ownership” of the interaction with the key customer.

Revenue Modeling

Revenue model patterns are a way for companies to monetize their business models. A revenue model pattern is a crucial building block of a business model because it informs how the company will generate short-term financial resources to invest back into the business. Thus, the way a company makes money will also influence its overall business model.

Pricing Strategies

A pricing strategy or model helps companies find the pricing formula in fit with their business models. Thus aligning the customer needs with the product type while trying to enable profitability for the company. A good pricing strategy aligns the customer with the company’s long term financial sustainability to build a solid business model.

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