Is it all the same: Business Design, Product Design and Service Design?

Our take on what puts these fields apart and how we practice business design.
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Despite graduating with my Master's in Strategic Product Design from TU Delft, when I joined oneUp I was approaching Business Design through the eyes of a Product Designer. Now, after 3 months in my role as a Business Designer at oneUp I've learned how different these processes are. Studying Product Design taught me how to translate a company's business strategy and market opportunities into a strong product or service portfolio. However, Business Design pushes the designer and company alike to rethink their way of working.

Let me take a few minutes to guide you through what I've learned about Business Design: What it is, how it's done, and the Business Design process we follow here at oneUp!

What is Business Design, you wonder?

Business Design emerged as a new profession because companies were struggling to understand how innovation could benefit their bottom line. At a strategic level, Business Designers can help companies rethink the fundamentals of their business and consider new business opportunities, taking into account every element of the business model: How can the business affect the consumer? What technologies have the highest potential? Where is the market heading towards?  

At oneUp we do Business Design a bit different.

We are specialized in Business Design and Venture Building. Business Designers are in charge of developing new business models, designing new digital transformation strategies for companies, or helping companies implement innovation methodologies within their organization. Venture Builders are responsible for validating those new ideas and executing them. oneUpers, whether they work in Business Design or Venture Building, know how to balance risk and innovation to ensure a successful project launch.

As a oneUper (is the way we like to call ourselves), I get to work with big companies on projects that I am proud of. Every day, I look around our office in Amsterdam and know that I get to be a part of transforming influential organizations and can bring impactful solutions to the world. But what really makes it special, is that even though we have a very clear role and methodology for Business Design and for Venture Building, anyone can be pretty flexible with moving between these roles, depending on their own growth goals and interests in particular topics creating endless opportunities for personal and professional growth.

What makes a great Business Designer?

Business Designers need to challenge the fundamentals of a company and find new business opportunities. So, if you want to be a Business Designer you'll need to understand what drives organizational growth. In my experience, our Business Designers at oneUp excel because or their Empathy, Curiosity, and Nerve!

In regards to empathy, you have to create an impact on three levels: Planet, People and Profit. At the same time, Business Designers need to remember that innovation is a process of trial and error. Working with our clients has taught me how important it is to expect the unexpected and learn from the consequences of innovation - both positive and negative. Being able to empathize is the foundation for our relationship with clients, defines the way of listening to stakeholders and ultimately leads up to more impactful results.

is our next skill to review; and if I'm being honest, my favorite part of being a Business Designer! In Business Design, you need perhaps an unhealthy amount of curiosity! At oneUp Business Designers spend a lot of their time exploring new trends, innovative technologies, and how societal shifts affect consumer behavior - and we love it!

In my current role, I get to work closely with major decision-makers for international corporations. When you work in the business of making companies future proof, you've got to have the resilience to propose ideas that may push companies into new ways of thinking. Business Designers need to be able to embrace their position as thought leaders with enthusiasm and a whole lot of nerve!

Are you considering becoming a Business Designer?

If so, the best advice I can give you is to keep your eyes open – you never know where your next inspiration wave or learning experience will come from. If you're interested in building your empathy, curiosity and nerve, here's a quick tip:

Remember to stay humble and open to the people around you, everyone has a story to share so get to know as many people as you can. You never know what you'll learn. It may feel uncomfortable at first but no one said growth was an easy process!

Developing yourself and your career while working on topics that you are passionate about is important for you? Join oneUp and work on projects that deliver financial, societal and environmental impact!

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oneUp is an Amsterdam-based business builder with experience setting up high-performing corporate innovation vehicles.

oneUp is a business model innovation agency specialising in helping corporates turn the world's significant disruptions into opportunities.