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What is Business Design?

Business Design

The world is changing very fast around us, and any business that forgets to adapt and evolve rapidly will not grasp the right opportunities and will, therefore, be left behind. But organizations that are always on their toes will go far, and one of the best ways to ride the waves of change in the business world is by incorporating business design.

But what is business design? How does it add value to your customer base? This and many more are what this post will discuss. So, sit back, and get ready to learn how to take your business to the next level using business design tools.

Business design: What is it?

Business design refers to the humanistic – or human-centered – approach by which the innovative minds in an organization help to boost the growth of the organization. It is an approach that can be applied to both services and products. Any form of innovation that gives room for an organization to grow to the next level is categorized under business design. It is primarily geared to work on the behaviors of customers’ via:

  • What consumers want to see
  • What customers are thinking
  • What consumers want to do
  • How customers are feeling
  • What their impulsive or spontaneous purchasing behavior is, etc.

Business design is chiefly a consumer-oriented approach, i.e. it is about creating something that your customers will be pleased with. It is also primarily a design thinking approach that helps in solving real-life problems. In other words, Business Design is the skill that you can learn, which will help your organization or business distinguish itself in your industry. Business design also differentiates between a machine and a human. Nowadays, Artificial Intelligence machines have been empowered to think like humans as well as to work as a human.

But machines cannot be programmed to do two, distinct things which are highly crucial to the growth and success of any organization:

  • To innovate, and
  • To feel (like a human would)

Competition is fierce in nearly every field of endeavor these days, and without Business Design, it becomes increasingly difficult for an organization to grow. This is why Business Design is gaining a lot of attention these days because, without innovation or innovative ideas, many companies will run out of business fast.

Gone are the days when organizations had managers who were knowledgeable in nearly every area, which is related to their work. All you needed to become a manager at the time is to have Leadership (People) and Technical skills. But now, if you must be assigned as a manager, you must have in-depth knowledge of Business Design. You must be innovative and capable of taking the organization to new levels or heights in business.

The Three Gears of Business Design

Three-Gears-of-Business-DesignThe Business Design approach to creativity or innovation combines the best of both strategy and design thinking. Sustainable growth comes from both the development as well as the implementation of revolutionary ideas. However, without actionable business design tools and a framework for creative thinking, this kind of innovation will practically be impossible.
And this brings us to the three gears of Business Design which uniquely provide the framework as well as the tools for the following:

1. Understanding Customers

Customers always have unmet needs, and this is where innovation comes in. In most cases, customers do not have the necessary tools they can use to give voice to their own needs. And standard market research – more often than not – only scratch the surface.

2. Creating and Testing Ideas

This is where you turn unmet or unfulfilled needs into innovation. It has to do with generating new and actionable ideas, garnering customer feedback as well as carrying out rapid testing to get a much better solution.

3. Connecting and Implementing Strategy

A sound strategy is crucial and has a significant role to play in the implementation of new ideas. This means that the organization must have a clear set of choices that will help them to win in the marketplace. Organizations that focus on Business Design will be able to explore new possibilities in tangible ways. This will enable them to make excellent decisions that are holistic, innovative, customer-centric, and collaborative.

4. What is the Role of a Business Designer?

So, what does a business designer do? The following are the key activities of a good business designer:

  • In-depth understanding of both the business as well as the competition
  • Provide unique industry perspectives
  • Design experiments for mock-ups or prototyping
  • Measure each result of the experiments
  • Readily identify risks and mitigating strategies
  • Identify differentiation strategies
  • Develop business cases/models with financial models to substantiate investments

The Business Design Tools You Need to Get Started

Get Started

To get started in Business Design, you need tools to approach the field, and these will help you get familiar with the necessary mindset over time. You must not only read but practice what you learn if you want to stand out as a Business Designer:

Exhaustive Research

This involves carrying out thorough research, which will give you an idea of what the market, customer, etc. is all about. You may have to go through lots of studies, articles, books, reports, and even conferences to get an excellent overview of the industry.

In-depth understanding of the Business, Market along with Value Creation 

This is where you collate the results of your research to make sense of your findings of the industry or market, your competitors, prevailing business models as well as the customer.

Design a Brand-New Business Model

This is the part where you need to get your creative juices flowing. Draw the information you need from your research and add a few sparks of inspiration. You can get inspiration by collecting different business model patterns or examples of revenue streams. You can also get your creative juices going with innovation cards like brainstorm cards, spark cards, etc. They will help in opening your perspective while encouraging divergent thinking.


The next step is to go ahead and create a prototype to test every critical assumption under your hat. In Business Design, the #1 prototyping tool is the financial plan. This is the spreadsheet that provides a helicopter view and forecasts for your innovative business idea. This is what you need to make use of as a basis for a theory-driven approach.


Business Design continues to be on the rise as business designers take creative, juicy, human-centered innovation and make it work successfully in the real world. It provides a great perspective to managers and entrepreneurs alike and helps them to think creatively about their business models as well as what to do to develop them further.