What is business design? Is it the missing ingredient in your team?
Written by Giacomo Felace
I’ve talked about design thinking on this blog before (︎click hereand read the article). I thought I’d talk about it a little bit more, and look into why you might want to consider having a business designer in your team.
︎What does a business designer do?
Business designers essentially apply design thinking to traditional business strategy to find new opportunities for growth. Of course there’s a lot more to it than that, I know. Design Thinking is just one of several methodologies or techniques that business designers use to do what they do.
I like to think that the “trick” to business design is finding the balance between innovation, creativity and commercial competitiveness. To be an excellent business designer you basically need a combination of the right mindset (being) and a rigorous methodology (doing) that unlocks a person’s thinking.
Part of a business designer’s creative process starts by challenging limits in order to find new market opportunities. One of the “typical” processes involved is looking at other brands, industries and experiences in order to find out how they solved their problems. Business designers call this benchmarking.
As well as that, they also investigate and help define:
︎ USPs (what makes the business special or different from its competitors); ︎ Business models (how does it actually make money from what it’s providing/selling); ︎ Company culture (the way the business is structured and how it attracts the right talent); ︎ Revenue sources (other possible ways it can make money).
︎Why business design is on the rise?
Traditionally, businesses have tackled their problems with a combination of data, analysis and strategy. If you think about it, that’s pretty much what a designer does, isn’t it? It’s no surprise to see more and more companies applying a design mindset to business these days. In the fight to keep a competitive advantage, it’s becoming an important method. This is where business designers play the lead role. And more and more companies are starting to demand them as part of their talent.
︎Who is applying business design?
Human-centred design is nothing new. In fact, a lot of the famous Silicon Valley tech names now practice it as a standard:
Slack talks about putting “people, not features, first”;
Google launched a whole video series on human-centred design and SIYLI program a while ago;
Apple has guidelines for designing a “human interface”;
IBM says, quite boldly, that human-centred design is critical to solving problems with technology.
You get the picture. Pretty much everyone these days is applying what is also known as the Design Thinking methodology to the way they create their products and services. Now imagine applying this mindset to some of the more traditional but proven business tactics. So you have the best of the business world and the best of the design world. This method – a way of tackling business problems from a more human perspective – is what’s known as business design.
︎Why you might want to consider hiring a business designer?
If you work for a design consultancy – especially if it specialises in Service Design – adding a business design perspective to your team could be a game-changer. Once you have the capacity to able shift from designing a human-centred product to designing a human-centred business, the impact you can have increases.
All of a sudden, you’re able to offer clients not only a better product or service but also a better business model — one that’s long term and takes into consideration how people (both internal and external to the business) change the behaviours, mindsets and mental models.