Business capabilities that just a few years ago produced competitive advantage no longer do. It’s no longer enough for companies to demonstrate executional excellence. Innovation and speed are the new must-haves. Customer focus has given way to customer obsession. Data-led is now data-driven. Product development is no longer about designing things customers want. It’s about designing solutions that give customers the outcomes they need.
In this very different environment, business leaders know they need to adapt. But questions remain about how they can develop these attributes fast. Business design might just be the answer.
Design thinking is a repeatable process for solving problems and identifying new opportunities. While it is widely used by product designers, this human-centered approach to innovation is not limited to the creation of things. Design thinking can be used for any type of solution aimed at aligning people’s needs to technical possibilities and business requirements.
Forward-thinking executives have realized they can augment their traditional problem-solving approaches with principles of design thinking to drive innovation across their entire business. With this new way of looking at business challenges and solving complex problems—dubbed “business design”— companies can gain a deeper understanding of those they serve and greatly increase the likelihood that the outcomes they deliver will be highly valued. With its intense focus on the needs and experiences of stakeholders, business design introduces a broader mindset and a new set of problem-solving and discovery techniques (see Figure 1).
The benefit of using business design to introduce organizational changes quickly cannot be overstated. Not only does it encourage employees to redesign processes more efficiently, but it also accelerates adoption by having employees cocreate process changes. Accenture Strategy research has found that high-performing organizations have more change taking place—30 to 50 percent more initially—and at a faster pace than their lower-performing counterparts.3
At its core, business design is about improving the relevance of the solutions that organizations can deliver to the end user, as well as the manner and speed with which they can create them. It encourages experimentation and prototyping. And it connects important elements of design (e.g., elegance, sensitivity, continuous and rapid iteration, and an appreciation for how people engage with the world) within the context of the business, which allows leaders to quickly understand the feasibility and implications of their decisions.