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  • Writer's pictureFarid Shojaie

Business Design: Business Model Innovation Using Design Thinking

Updated: Apr 30

Business Design | Business Model Innovation


Life is too short to build something nobody wants.” - Ash Maurya | Author, Running Lean

More than 3739 products are published daily in the Play Store. 3739! This number is separate from the products offered daily to target markets by automakers, food factories, pharmaceutical companies, enterprise software manufacturers, and other product-oriented organizations around the world. These organizations publish their products at different time frames for various commercial and non-commercial purposes. But what percentage of these products can provide a pleasant experience for their target users and customers to increase their level of satisfaction, their use of the product, and more importantly, their adherence to the product? What percentage of these product makers have an innovative and resilient business model that can compete with competitors?

In recent years, the world’s top universities and institutes such as Stanford University and the HPI Institute, along with businesses such as IBM, General Motors, and even SAP, have launched their mindset, values, and processes based on Design Thinking. Design thinking helps organizations and teams provide human-centered and innovative business models, products, or services to their target market to enhance customer/user satisfaction. In this article, we will get acquainted with the application of Design Thinking at the business level and also the way of designing a sustainable business model.

Design Thinking in Nutshell

Design thinking is primarily a mindset and secondly a process. The history of this concept dates back to 1960, and gradually in the following decades, through evolution, it has become what we are now faced with. In general, Design Thinking helps businesses to provide an innovative business model, product, or service to their target market by playing in two spaces. These two spaces are:

  • Problem Space

  • Solution Space

Double Diamond Model | Design Council

On the one hand, a problem space is a place where a business should address issues, problems, demands, as-is experience, and target users. This happens through problem discovery and problem framing that help teams to come up with the defined problem to solve. On the other hand, in the solution space, the business tries to come up with as many ideas as possible for the framed problem, selects the best ideas, and then designs and validates a prototype of the business model, product, or service. Following the mindset of design thinking and using related processes, helps businesses create consistent value and provide delightful experiences for customers and users.

Design Thinking Phases

Business Design Approach

Business Design is an approach to solving business problems through the lens of design and business. The purpose of Business Design (or even Business Redesign) is to create sustainable and innovative products and services that have a sustainable business model to support them. Business Design is about reducing business risk by continuously validating customer/user desirability and business viability. Also, technological feasibility is another factor that completes the risk reduction puzzle for businesses.

Business Design Aspects | Board of Innovation

The Business Design approach uses Business Analysis, Lean, Design Thinking, and Business Model Innovation concepts, techniques, and models that empower business owners, product managers, and other business leaders. Business Design empowers teams to explore the problem space to realize what is happening in the life of their potential customers/users right now and based on findings, they will be ready to frame the right business problem as a challenge for innovation that results in designing a sustainable business model. Like DT, various versions of this approach have been presented by organizations, educational institutions, and innovation agencies. One of the best versions is the Board of Innovation’s Business Design approach. In the following, we will get acquainted with different parts of business design based on the Board of Innovation approach:

Business Design Framework | Board of Innovation Approach

To design or redesign a business, people in an organization must work as a cross-functional team /teams to explore the problem correctly and come up with an innovative solution with Business Design. The Business Design approach has the following stages:


To me, this is the most important part of any business. Determine what your business is and, more importantly, what it is not. What market is it targeting and what are the customers and users in these target markets currently experiencing?

Problem Exploration:

Problem exploration is very different from problem identification. Here, you will extract the root causes of everything that happens for the potential customers/users and analyze your findings to gain insights into their current experience. This will give the team a good idea of the current situation and experiences, as well as the causes of the events. At the end of this stage, you are expected to define a challenge for innovation using Problem Framing and How Might We. Innovation Challenge is a challenging question that will activate the team brain to come up with innovative ideas and help the team to put the light on the problem space.

Solution Development:

At this point, it’s time to brainstorm. Using the techniques provided by Design Thinking for idea generation, people present business ideas in the form of business facilities, features, and other types of solutions. Here the goal is to come up with as many ideas as possible. We value quantity over quality in this stage. At the end of this stage, the team will vote and select the best ideas to present in the form of a product or service.

Business Model Definition:

The beating heart of this approach is the business model design. In this stage, the team, based on the results obtained from the previous steps, designs an innovative, human-centered, and supportive business model for its innovative product or service. Using the tools and conditions available at this stage, the team will be able to design a sustainable and competitive business model.


In parallel with the activities performed in the previous stages, the validation mechanism is performed to ensure the exploration of the correct problem space as well as the efficiency and level of satisfaction with the ideas presented. Validation will help us avoid solving the wrong problem and offering the wrong solution, thus reducing the risk of starting a business that no one wants.

Pitch Design:

Finally, it’s time to tell the business story. The team must define the story of their business design in the form of a document that can be presented. Storytelling is of particular importance in this stage, as the team must define the business story from the time the scope is defined to the endpoint.

Last Word

Do not be like most people! Most people are accustomed to being Solution-first human beings. While DT teaches us to think about being Problem-first. Spend most of your time exploring the problem space. Because if you choose the wrong problem to solve, then it no longer matters how many innovative ideas you come up with to solve it. The Business Design approach will help you and your business to continually innovate in your business model, thereby maintaining a high level of customer, user, and stakeholder satisfaction.


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