Introducing Business Design

You are about to introduce Business Design to someone who is not yet familiar with it? The arguments in this article shall help you introduce Business Design to new participants in trainings / workshops or simply in first meetings with clients or other stakeholders.
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Bernhard Doll

Business Design Maverick

1. Introduction

Many companies are highly successful with their existing business. They are focused on KPI-driven optimisation of the status quo. New market players or technologies jeopardize the companies’ business model and a fierce fight for market shares is about to start. New business ideas for new market demands are missing, but many companies are not yet ready to explore and implement new business.

2. Typical Challenges

  • Companies have sometimes a very blurred picture of their future and a vague strategy how to get there ("30% revenue growth" is neither a vision nor a strategy). How can managers decide what to push and what to kill when they have no idea what the company may look like in 3-5 years. Who will be sitting there? What will employees be doing? Who will be customers and what will they be asking for?

  • Companies are often far away from their customers, even if they think they are not. It is easy to "interact" with customers but still not learning anything valuable from them. Examples are traditional market research or focus groups. Both formats are not suitable to really dig deep into the world of customers, they are "pseudo activities", often create fake insights and a good way to fool yourself.

  • Companies have often a system in place, in which leaders can survive without making clear decisions. They spend hours and hours in meetings to talk about new ideas, gut feelings and opinions (based on past experience) and postpone decisions to a future state. Why? Because they are scared and don't have a clear idea what is important (see a.). It is this "Yes, but..." attitude that can kill every entrepreneurial spirit.

  • Companies have not established a strong learning culture. They are filled with experts who may think that asking questions is a sign of weakness. But when it comes to innovation, there are a lot of known and unknown unknowns and it is impossible to know everything. And if you think you do so, you are eventually not building anything new. Curiosity beats experience!

  • Companies often think in products and how to improve them. Why? Because this was just enough the last decades. The discussion is mainly driven by technical possibilities and not by the question how real value can be created for customers. We need not only engineers in innovation projects but people who understand customers and are able turn this knowledge into great business models, products, services and software.

  • Companies haven often tried to "outsource" innovation to labs, incubators, accelerators etc. This is not always a bad idea, since radical approaches grow best outside the traditional work culture. Sometimes, however, we have observed that these labs are more an alibi for the CEO rather than serious innovation activities linked to real business problems of people who earn the money.

3. Why Business Design is a great answer to these challenges?

We have been building our approach over the last 10 years by continuously testing processes, workshop formats, methods and tools over and over again to come up with a consistent methodology that guides project teams through the whole innovation journey from first ideas to your first revenue on the market. The key features are:

  • Speed:
    We work in 10-weeks iterations to develop new business (= "lean"). After each iteration we have tangible output for a new business model, product, service or software as well as valid insights to reduce uncertainties and to learn what works (= "agile"). It usually takes one to three iterations to hit the market.  

  • Consistency:
    Business Design is highly structured throughout the whole innovation journey. It is not a random collection of tools and templates but a consistent approach that covers everything  needed to build something new.

  • Rigorousness:
    We hate "should", "would" and "could" statements and only rely on facts. We don't trust market research, for instance, until we haven't carefully evaluated the methodological approach and quality of results. We aim for the best possible results in the given timeframe and don't rest until we get there.

  • Embedding:
    Business Design projects never run in isolation or "outside" of the company. We don't believe that true innovation can be "injected" into an organization. We build innovation within the company and tie Business Design projects to the people and divisions in which the "fire burns".

  • Fun:
    Yes, Business Design is a fun (and sometimes eye-opening) experience. Even if Business Design projects are often quite challenging in terms of complexity and time pressure, we always try to create an atmosphere of trust and fun. 

Business Design is based on Guiding Principles, an Agile Development and Learning Process, a collection of Tools and way more. Check it out!