Management System for Business Design

Business Design is an essential part of a modern innovation management system and bridges the gap between ideas for new products, services or business models and the first revenue on the market. Thus, there are other activities going on before Business Design and also after to roll out and scale the new business.

  • Research & development:
    Exploring new search fields around customer feedback, market trends, organisational strengths, data and resources as well as technology ("turning money into knowledge")

  • Business Design:
    Translating inspiring insights from R&D into marketable and validated products, services and business models and earning the first € ("turning knowledge into money")

  • Go-to-market: 
    Scaling validated business models according inside or outside the organisation according to given objectives ("turning money into lot of money").

Flow of Activities and Innovation

The following figure shows a simplified flow of activities through the main stages "Research & Development" (R&D), "Business Design" and "Go-to-market". This is an exemplified version, which needs specific adaptation to strategic and organisational requirements:

Flow of Activities - From R&D to the Market (Example)

Another important stream worth mentioning is externalized / "outsourced" innovation management through independent project teams, acquisition or partnering with start-ups and other partners. This approach usually works in parallel to internal activities, but needs clearly defined touch points with the organisation. With Business Design we focus predominantly on both internal and external innovation processes and love to explore the best setup for specific innovation tasks.

  • Internalized innovation:
    Project teams are staffed with internal employees who invest dedicated time and effort into projects and activities. The benefit of this setup is simplified access to the organisation's resources. But it is also worth mentioning that really new ideas won't grow necessarily out of a legacy culture. Existing power and work structures and a culture tailored around continue optimisation rather than exploration is rarely a hotbed for innovation.

  • Externalized innovation: 
    Project teams are situated "outside" of a company and are staffed with internal and / or external experts that establish their own independent structures to create new ideas. Independence comes in two flavours here: Firstly, the team is not impeded by bureaucratic processes but, secondly, may also have difficult times to get resources of the mothership (which are often required = unfair advantage) such as access to the customer base.


The following observations are key to design and implement a management system for Business Design:

  1. Thinking in systems:
    Every innovation management system needs to cover all stages at once in order to deliver successful innovation. Many organisation excel at R&D and believe "Design Thinking" trainings and creativity workshops may allow them to bring R&D results to the market. Impossible! 

  2. Culture shock:
    The implementation of a management system with Business Design usually requires things that are brand new to the organisation, even in contrast to what many employees think and do today. It takes some time to change mindsets and behaviours of people. There are clear limits the way we speed up this transformation process. 

  3. People:
    Most of the people we have met over the last 15 years were good or excellent at one  but not at many of these phases. Somebody who is good at digging into interesting search fields around a sensor technology, new algorithms for artificial intelligence or even exploring the behaviour of a new customer segment is very likely not the one, who takes insists from R&D and turns them into a promising business model or even scale them. "Never say never". But the chance is very little. A good researcher is not necessarily a good "investment manager" for start-ups or an empathising coach for a Business Design sprints. Sometimes we need different structures in the organisation to handle different tasks in the system differently.

  4. Interfaces:
    The interfaces and hand-over touch points between the three stages are critical in real life. It is a good starting point to run efficient Business Design sprints, but ultimately, you win the game if the link to the subsequent "go-to-market" stage works smoothly.

  5. "Picture of the future":
    No matter how we design and implement the management system for Business Design, we heavily depend on a clear and precise "picture of the future". Becoming the No. 1 in the market is neither a picture of the future nor a strategy. It's a goal. Questions we should ask instead are what do the anticipated future "life" of customers, the future "life" of your organisation and the connection between the two may look like. If this picture is not clear, it is pretty difficult to set up any system and find the "right" decisions.