Four types of design every manager should know about

Looking to make sense of growth and innovation? Realized you need to adopt a design mindset? now get to know the different types of design systems.

Here’s a list of the four most essential design systems you need to know and simple explanations what they are all about

Fast moving world means that everything changes constantly. Change can happen by the power of virtue or by force of consequences, meaning that some changes are created as an outcome of direct initiatives (mobile computing was a deliberate initiative on behalf of apple) , while other changes occur as an outcome of other changes that disrupt the economies, processes, product environments or general habits (social media forced businesses to re-think themselves through). In both triggers of change, entrepreneurship plays an important role (as a change agent or as an adjustment agent)

According to OECD, entrepreneurship is on the rise fueled by a growing gig economy and accompanied by greater complexity in all sectors. We are undoubtedly leaving in an age of accelerated change.

Tim Weilkiens — Systems’ change and responsiveness.

As a result of accelerated change and increasing complexity gap, design, as a preferred form of creativity is becoming more and more critical.

The Four types of design

  1. Business design
  2. Enterprise design
  3. Products design
  4. Execution design

Each one of these types of design is important along the overall economic design flow.

CC — Yorai Gabriel — Thanks to @BennoLoewenberg for the visual inspiration

Since design flow is spatial, we continuously engage with different design types, so in reality, design flow will looks more like this (when in each quadrant there are we utilise different design tools):

© Yorai Gabriel

What is the role of each type of design in the value creation process?

Business Design
The core rationale behind everything! Why we do stuff and what do we need to do it. A rough model of the what, why, how, when and who — for the sole purpose of sustainable value creation (i.e., cost-effective value creation).

Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas

Whether we like it or not we are all businesses operating in different economies. We invest attention and engagements for an expectation of profit.

The genius of the business design approach, is that it allows moving away from a rigid business plan (predefined) into a business model (dynamic).

Business design engagements often utilizes Osterwalder’s business model canvas as a simple tool for modeling and acknowledging the core elements participating in the creation of value in businesses (which from my experience are relevant to any value creation system)

Enterprise Design

Enterprises are organizations that combine people, efforts, resources, concepts, and tools. Everything requires an enterprise to be realized, understanding the enterprise allows us to gain better control of the mechanics involved in our endeavors.

The notion enterprise design was coined by Milan Gunther, in his book Intersection, that introduced a clear and comprehensive framework for modelling enterprises and their elements in a simple way. enterprise design expands the high-level structure of the business model into layers that together combine value chains from strategic intent to tactical activities

Product Design

Everything is a product: packaged goods, electronic devices, services and even technologies. everything is created from a production process and was convinced and produced in various styles (both formal aesthetics and operational aesthetics).

A product is not only an end result, its also an instrument for additional production (A hammer is a product and an instrument in creation of other products such as buildings and furniture). Instrumentalism is a practical philosophy that regards everything (actions, tools, services, etc.) as an instrument for some useful purpose.

The highly appreciated approach is a reversed observation on instrumentalism (attempting to link desired outcome with production offerings (i.e. deliverables or products).

Execution Design

Strategy is one thing, and implementation is another. Most entrepreneurial enterprises and products fail, and within large organizations, the majority of initiatives demonstrate sub-optimal performance at best.
Since execution is less and less trivial in a fast-changing world, implementation, realization and operational flows must be designed as well.

I believe this area of design is still under-explored. While there are many design-ops suggestions for procedural engagement with design challenges, they are, to my opinion, too complicated and fuzzy to produce consistent engagements and results.

The challenge is uncovering unexpected constraints, dealing with wicked problems and being creative where it matters the most.
Execution design organizes the goals, essential accomplishments and relevant project steps along the way (i,e. GAP Analysis) to create an operational model that can be communicated and monitored.

Utilising the four types of design

The essential considerations of each type of design.

Don’t dive into Design-Ops before you understand the fundamentals of design systems and design types

  1. Business design creates a model of the mechanism for value creation.
  2. Enterprise design elaborates the architecture and elements needed for the value creation machine, the organisation. Using enterprise design we can identify intersections of opportunity and friction and clarify the tools required to increase flow.
  3. Product design, the common perception of design, articulates a deliverable-marketable tool. Products (including services and technologies) serve a purpose of particular clients, are produced by particular operators using particular tools (imagine an irregular fractal), and co-exist with various economies (social, resources, governance and emotional are the most important).
  4. Execution design refers to the flow of activities, ideas, engagements necessary for the production of a product. Products are highly influenced by specific production conditions (knowledge, resources availability, styles, skills and culture), and therefore require us to address particular riction points in the transformation of desire to reality. Good execution design follows the simple notion — If you want something, something else must happen first. (what is this thing?).

In an environment constructed by multiple desires and requirements, understanding the purpose () and mastering production () requires understanding particular accomplishments along the way (Things To Be Done).

join me at intersection conference, where I will be giving a special workshop in execution design and design in the context of business innovation, and in particularly how to find and articulate the most important things to be done.

Google Developer Expert for Product strategy. I write about Design, Creativity and Innovation management.