Business design is a new way of thinking about companies as interconnected systems worthy of innovation, creativity and the application of design to the systems themselves. Business design applies the mindsets of a designer to the task of creating the overall strategy and business model.
Business design is a useful way of looking creatively at a company in the context of its customers, suppliers and competitors. Every company needs to combine the disciplines of technology, design and business together to deliver value for a customer. But too often, only the crafts of technology and design are seen as real sources of new innovation (with the business function itself just doing the marketing or arranging the finances). In reality, the business-side of innovation can be incredibly important.
If you were the CEO of a large company, who would you turn to for help to recapture your lost mojo? How would you create, test and build new products? Big companies have been steadily getting worse at innovation, whereas startups have begun to eat the world. Small companies can move fast, take risks and attract talent.
The brightest minds of the next generation are spending their weekends writing code at hackathons and quitting their jobs to build interesting startups. The jump is easier than ever thanks to the explosion of incubators and accelerators. It’s a brave new world, but it has left large, tired old companies looking for ways to become more agile.
A new trend is emerging where hot studios (that combine design, business and technology skills) are building startups from scratch for large companies. This new approach is reviving the patronage model from Renaissance Florence.
A value proposition is where your company’s product offer intersects with your customer’s desires. It’s the magic fit between what you make and why people buy it. Your value proposition is the crunch point between business strategy and brand strategy.
When you’re starting a new project or a new company you need quick and dirty tools to help you focus on executing things faster and better. Good strategy tools exist only to help you focus on getting the right things done. The value proposition canvas is a simple tool that quickly gets you to the ‘minimum viable clarity’ required to start building and testing.
A client of mine recently wanted to do a written customer survey. I’m usually allergic to these generic and prosaic insight-free-zones. But Jeremy Moon from Icebreaker recently put me onto a metric called the “Net Promoter Score” that might actually be worth testing for in a customer survey.
Jeremy is an independent advisory board member of Better By Design which is the design and innovation team within New Zealand Trade & Enterprise. He has always been a real inspiration to me because of the integrity of the Icebreaker merino products and the passionate tribe of fans that the brand attracts.
The whole of your business model can be analysed by imagining one widget at a time. Usually, design thinkers and product managers want to wait until a new product is in the market before testing the financial impact that it has had on the business.
I’m proposing that for your new product development projects that you include an accountant in your early team and that as part of the story-telling process you include financial models of how the new product would work for the business.