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Business Development, Business Design, or both?

Just like with the term strategy, there are as many definitions for Business Development and Business Design as there are respondents. There are also several definitions for those on the Internet, but let us try to add our views. 

Scott Pollack defines Business Development in his influential writing in Forbes as follows: “Business development isthe creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships”. Although there are also some views that Business Development also covers internal activities it is usually seen as activities occurring outside an organisation - an analysis of the opportunities on the market with customers and partners. 

Businesses need to be active on the market, all the time discussing with customers and partners, analysing the trends and analysing the possible futures to be able to identify the new business opportunities. Once an opportunity is identified the Business Design kicks in - usually an opportunity in the beginning is an ill-defined challenge that designers are trained to work with. 

IDEO, one of the real thought leaders in the Design space defines Business design: “it is a way of operating that combines the tools of business thinkers, analysts, and strategists with the methods and mindsets of design. Business designers think about how every element of the business model affects the consumer and client experience.”

Keep customer in the centre

The key element of Business Design is to keep the customer in the centre of the process all the time. What started as an idea of the potential opportunity needs to be verified on the market - is the need really there? How are customers addressing the need currently? How are they served etc. Designers have a huge toolbox to address these questions in a systematic way in a dialogue with customers. So in practice Business Design means a collection of methods and tools used by a skillful team with diverse backgrounds for the benefit of a company. 

Example of a Business Design Challenge: New markets

One of the typical challenges of Business Design is internationalization and bringing existing product to a new market. There are many questions: For example, does the customer in the new market value the same things that the customer in the existing market values? What about the direct and indirect competition? Is the customer buying behaviour the same? Does the product need tweaking, or a re-design? Are there existing marketplaces for the product? Partners? Logistics? Etc... To meet this challenge, a lot of different kinds of expertise will be needed - as well as a common methodology and approach! Hence the Business Design. 

Answer at least these simple questions when entering a new market

So to put it short, good Business Design is

  • A team
  • with a Design approach
  • using a collection of methods and tools
  • having an excellent Business literacy
  • and lot of experience…


Our Business design services

At Alpha Design Partners, we approach Business Design as a very practical process - you have a business challenge and we can help you to come up with the best solution for it. With our huge network of designers we can assemble the best possible and diverse hit team for the task at hand - from business strategist to industry specialist to help to craft the solution that adds most value to the customer and to the company alike. 


Does this resonate? How would you define Business Design?

Tomi Rauste
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