What is Business Design?

Tsukasa Tanimoto
Spotless Says
Published in
14 min readAug 29, 2018

This blog post is part of a series of posts around Business Design. You’ll find the first post “Where does business design come from?” here.

In my previous post, I explained where business design comes from and its relevance as management and design consultancies merge. . Now, as promised, I would like to get into the nitty gritty and describe what a business designer is, what they do and and how they better the design process.

By its simplest definition, we can say that business design applies design and design thinking to business problems with the objective of bringing innovation to life. Putting this into the context of a design process, we can say that the business designer has three main functions:

  1. frame, direct and/or inform the design process through a business lens to ensure design solves business problems effectively.
  2. translate design solutions into value and impact through a language that business stakeholders are familiar with to prove design provides solutions to business problems.
  3. apply human-centered methodologies to strengthen business and financial components of design work to create services and products that are viable.
The business designer within the design process.

1. To ensure design solves business problems effectively, business designers frame, direct or inform the design process through a business point of view.

In the late 90s, Sony’s PlayStation won the console race against its competitors Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64. Then in early 2000s, PlayStation 2 was launched and soon became the best-selling gaming system of all time. Nintendo was having a rough time and understood it couldn’t compete head-to-head with Sony and Microsoft in making faster-better-greater consoles . They needed a new strategy to avoid failing for three generations.

To figure out how to make their next console a success, they applied a philosophy previously articulated by Game & Watch founder Yokoi Gumpei: “Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology.” In this philosophy, “withered technology” refers to a mature, cheap and well understood technology, and “lateral thinking” refers to the process of finding radical new ways of using such technology. Out of this process came the Nintendo Wii — while the Wii was much less advanced technologically than the PS3…

Tsukasa Tanimoto
Spotless Says

Strategic Designer at BCG Digital Ventures Tokyo. I also run a online media sharing stories of creatives influenced by Japanese culture: www.usblahmeblah.online