Business Design is a new profession specialized in creative and innovative advice over the field of management and business and in coaching for the Business Brand. The Business Designer can interpret the signals of the market, giving indications on future trends and helping to construct the Business Strategy, Business Plan, and Organization. He can finally supervise the Visual Identity of the brand to respect the guidelines of the Brand aforementioned to help the Business succeed over the long-term.
Therefore, Business designers, to put it simply, design for viability.
As Business Designer, I live in a context (Italy) where this position is totally unknown and where, sadly, the visual presentation is about everything for a business. During my experiences I’ve seen the need, in Italy more than ever, of a figure that would lead the organization from the business planning, towards it is finally “seen” and “interacts” with the final customer.
So is the Business Designer a position relegated to “crunch the numbers” in a cubicle while the rest of the team brainstorms new ideas? Are they considered designers like other members of the team?
Someone might also ask, “So, what do you actually do?!”
A few quick answers:
Yes, you do really design as a business designer! Although you are expected to know your way around an income statement and a spreadsheet, you won’t be treated like a human calculator.
And yes, you not only get to brainstorm with your team, you get a say in everything the team does, from the industrial design of a product to an interaction in an app. The reverse is also true! Other designers get a say in everything you produce, whether that’s challenging your assumptions around customer adoption or suggesting improvements in your experiment design.
What do we do day-to-day? At the beginning of a project, business designers often translate what the client wants. Then we go into the research phase. We crunch numbers, data, articles and we understand context, market and so on. During this phase, we understand the business and competitors and we can plot a business plan or a business canvas, a strategy for the business and we can set guidelines to understand how it should find its customers and interact with them. Business Designers, of course, prefer Blue Oceans instead of red ones! Great business designers can take an old business like the circus and create a new one like the Cirque du Soleil.
We can answer these questions: “What are the core values it should inspire? What do we want to accomplish? What is our market? What is the vision of the business?”
Answered this questions and plotted the business plan we jump to the design research phase. During this phase of a project, we start brainstorming and sometimes prototyping with the design team. It could mean creating experiments and prototypes that help answer a question we have about customer segments or brand positioning. We get to say and decide with the design team and supervise and control that everything is balanced with the values and guidelines decided abovementioned. Therefore, In a project’s final stages, business designers help craft the story of how our design recommendation fits into a company’s overall strategy, the underlying business model, and any implementation risks.
What makes a great business designer?
Of course, there’s no simple answer, but there are qualities that help determine if the candidate you are considering to be your consultant might be a perfect fit. Here are three things to look for:
Business designers are generally the most important business mind in a team which is designing or redesigning a Brand or creating new innovative startups. They are the ones that understand the business, marketing and design part of the business. They need although, to have an experience to draw upon and an ability to tackle challenges with conviction. These personalities need to wear many hats throughout a project, and of course, you want them to be confident and ready to do what is asked of them.
Some questions you might want to ask to assess his/her abilities:
- How are you adapting your work to changes in your industry?
- Have you launched a new product or service? How did it go?
- How would you create financial projections for a new product?
New startups and innovative projects can be highly ambiguous, without a clearly defined process or toolkit to help the team get to the finish line. Business designers need to help determine what work should be done to explore, test, refine, and recommend a final solution considering always the team, budget, or time.
To measure potential, you’d want to know:
- Do you embrace the opportunity to develop your own process?
- Can you set up parameters that feel defined but not overly restrictive?
- Do you make things real and tangible, or are you more theoretical?
If you want an innovative product you need T-shaped people — those who not only have impressive backgrounds but also have genuine and unique personal interests. You need empathetic and intuitive people who connect with others and make work better by identifying linkages and inspiration others might not see, like new and challenging ideas.
Getting at softer skills that matter:
- What excites you?
- What problems in the world do you want to solve?
- What would you uniquely bring to our culture?
This article was originally written by Misa Misono and you can find it on medium.com/ideo-stories/so-you-want-to-be-a-business-designer-e424f89cea4b#.45jww1kk9
Want to know more about business design? Do you need consultancy? Let me know what’s on your mind in the comments or shoot me an email!