The use of design thinking is on the rise in business, and design has been a lively topic of discussion. The buzz generated by design may even have puzzled some because of the vast array of the terminology involved. There is service design, UX/UI design, strategic design, concept design, and now business design, a more recent entrant, which adorns our titles.
When we business designers first met a year ago, it was a delight to discover how much we had in common. We had been asked questions about our job description, which exhausting and difficult to explain both at work and home. We also felt uncomfortable with the hype surrounding design. We both found significant value in design thinking and business design when applied in the correct situations. So, we got to thinking: how to boil down business design into a more easily digested form?
We quickly came to the conclusion that our work is best described simply as people-oriented problem-solving. The end product of a business designer’s process may be a strategy, business model, or service concept, but the common thread in any project is to focus on the people and solve problems by combining the perspectives of both business and customer.
For example, business design can answer the following questions: How should a company reward and win the loyalty of its best customers? How can a consumer goods company experiment with and build business models based on a circular economy? Where should a company invest in the development of digital services? How could one transition from product sales to a service business?
These questions are of a strategic nature, and their answers require an understanding of human behaviour, customer needs, business logic and numbers, as well as the need for new designs and experiments based on holistic insights. Business design was formed in this intersection to create a bridge between cold business development and human insights.
People-oriented problem-solving is actually central to every designer’s work – what changes is the context which ranges from user interfaces to service and strategy design. The next time you are involved in a discussion about design and are about to give up on the jargon, you can remind yourself that the topic is actually no more than problem-solving. If you need help with solving strategic questions, go fetch a Business Designer.
Jaakko Luomaranta, Business Designer, Solita
Markku Autio, Head of Business Design, OP