Business Design

Something that’s a little bit weird, but kind of cool, kind of clever, and kind of nerdy.
— Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer at IDEO

What is Business Design?

Business Design turns a product or service into a business. It's a flavor of innovation consulting that helps…

  • exploring how to (sustainably) make money with a new offer (business model design and exploratory business case calculation)
  • finding out where to play and how to win (strategy and positioning)
  • testing offers with real customers (in-market-testing, discovery-driven planning, and live prototyping)
  • developing options based on data and intuition (evidence-based decision making)
  • building a new business and acting like a startup (venture design)

How is Business Design different?

So what makes Business Design "weird" from the perspective of a creative professional? It's the focus on business elements and data which few design and innovation consultancies successfully practice.

In fact, if you come from a business background, you would associate the elements of Business Design with traditional strategy consulting (focusing on organic growth).

What makes Business Design different from strategy consulting is the "How" more than the "What". Business Design is an element of Human-centered Design, and as such different in its approach to strategy.

Optimism: Generative instead of only analytical

If you've seen management consultants work, you know it's often necessary to find mistakes, be critical, and minimize risk. Innovation and growth, however, require larger amounts of experimentation and optimism. Here, we balance analytical rigor and PowerPoint communication with creativity and Post-its.

UX: Empathetic instead of only functional

Making decisions for companies or departments means thinking high-level and usually removes leaders from how human customers and employees really are. Business Design is an element of Human-centered Design and thus puts people and their experience at the center of everything.

Prototyping: Tangible instead of only high-level

The best way to avoid paralysis by analysis is to create something tangible: a visualization or prototype that everyone can talk about. By making it real you remove much of the misunderstanding and complexity that comes from how we communicate in corporations. Prototyping – something traditional strategy consultants really struggle with – is the best way to reduce the risk of entering a market with an offer few customers need or want.