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... ≠ R&D

R&D (= research & development) is very often focused on technical feasibility studies to figure out whether a technology or material can be used in products, software systems etc. The aim is to learn around technical questions. Answers to these questions may be a great trigger for Business Design projects, which means that typical R&D projects usually happen BEFORE Business Design projects to feed them with great insights around technology (see Discover phase).

The following illustration depicts when and how different approaches for innovation management are useful for creating innovation: 

Approaches for Innovation Management

... ≠ "Business Model Generation"

Thanks to the guys of "Business Model Generation", many of us have started thinking in business models. A great contribution to the world of management and strategy. Nevertheless, filling the original Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas is only 1% of the effort needed to turn ideas into practice. Browse through this knowledge base and you will instantly see that Business Design gives you the other 99% needed to design, validate and implement new business.

... ≠ "Lean Startup"

  • Well, Business Design is based on the same idea of "agile" development and learning processes as many other approaches out there for years, such as SCRUM or Extreme Programming or Lean Startup.
  • Lean Startup has, in fact, propelled "agile" thinking to the business level, which has actually opened up the market for Business Design.
  • Business Design, however, goes beyond the basic ideas of Lean Startup by structuring every single step necessary to build new business. Especially when it comes to testing, prototyping, linking MVPs (= minimum viable products) to business models, Business Design is far ahead of Lean Startup.

... ≠ "Design Thinking"

  • Design Thinking has championed a discipline called "Human Factors" and made a very valuable contribution in the way we can empathize with customers through qualitative research and observations. Also, the way ideas and knowledge are visualized in Design Thinking is something we learn from every day.
  • Design Thinking, however, neglects implicitly many important factors:
    • Design Thinking doesn't care that much about the context of innovation projects and how they are embedded into an organization. Design Thinking focuses primarily on customers and ideas. But reality has taught us that a great idea isn't worth that much. It has to be linked to strategy of a company as well as people and their interests and passion in order to succeed. 
    • Design Thinking is very sloppy in the way they test uncertain aspects of new ideas. It is something like "go out and talk to people and see what they say". Business Design is way more accurate in how experimental settings are designed that lead to valid insights and support decision-making.
    • Design Thinking often ignores business issues. They claim to have an interdisciplinary perspective ("Customer", "Technology", "Business"), but in fact, they often ignore questions around profitability, costs and investments needed to realize a great new business model, product, service or software.
  • Overall, Design Thinking is a great approach for human-centred ideation at early phases but not suitable for commercialisation and bringing new products, services, software or even business models to the market.


In fact, Business Design is a unique combination of different approaches and  methods such as Business Model Generation, Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Strategic Management, Organizational Psychology and Engineering. We haven't reinvented the wheel but created a consistent and powerful framework that truly covers the entire journey from ideas to market success.
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