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Our Perspective: Both Business Design and Experience Design Offer Opportunity for Innovation


Much has been written in the past few years regarding design thinking that elaborates on the importance of business context and user perspectives as a foundation of knowledge and insight that drives innovation and design.

Analytic tools such as journey mapping and value chain analysis establish major ideas of business goals, user needs, and operational scope:

  • They systematically uncover a much broader perspective than can be realized “inside out” from a solution stakeholder’s singular perspective.
  • Even when multiple perspectives are represented on a team, without such tools there is limited structure for sharing a common view of the business context and identifying opportunities.

In practice, business context work often moves quickly to “ideation”, which is sometimes referred to as the “What if?” stage in design thinking. There are two problems here:

  1. Insufficient thinking about business context limits thinking in regards to opportunities for value-add.
  2. Design itself is limited to the online experience dimension.

To the first point – Strategically valuable online solutions must be anchored in business goals and analyzed in the context of business or management systems before their solution requirements are defined.

A detailed understanding of the business context (such as process steps and desired behavior changes along with user needs perspectives) provide a rich basis for design in the online experience. In what way does the online experience directly support the larger business system? Where is the value?

To the second point – The “solution” is erroneously viewed as a single idea, when in fact a solution can comprise many enabling facets, such as process change and new technology married with a change program (all of which the online experience can have a hand in facilitating).

We see clients moving quickly to experience design, thus conflating analysis on the business context with analysis that informs solution requirements definition and design elaboration itself.

Why is this a problem? Because there is the opportunity for the analytic team to evaluate the business or operating model for conceptual structure, rigor, and completeness.

Often gaps are identified, such as program or process weaknesses, that can and should be addressed. Here innovation in business capability can be identified and acted on. This would precede and inform design of the online experience, where a separate class of innovation opportunities can be applied.

In sum, great solutions innovate in the business model and in the experience itself, based on a fundamentally sound understanding of the client’s business. This represents a carving of new and better cow paths before we pave them.

Contact us, to help you analyze your business challenge.

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