Business Design Agent of Change

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Perustieteiden korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
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International Design Business Management
Degree programme
Master’s Degree Programme in International Design Business Management (IDBM)
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A wide range of companies has actively applied a human-centred nature of design to solve complex, ill-defined problems. This has helped them generate a great number of innovative ideas. However, the majority of these ideas has never turned into profitable business opportunities. Design consultancies were the first to identify that neither design nor business are in themselves sufficient to engender these opportunities; for instance, design still significantly lacks strategic thinking and methods vital for fruitful outcomes; while business often focuses on exploitation, forgetting the high impact of exploration. They proposed business design as a potential solution for that critical issue. Despite the novelty of the term, business design gained popularity across industries as a strategic source for successful business and greater breakthroughs. Furthermore, it became a part of education programs in well-recognized business management schools. A growing demand for business design indicates its significant value for companies; however, the practical implication is largely undeveloped. Each company independently cultivates its business design competence, defines approaches, specific design skills and methods in their own way. Moreover, the definition of the term has a significant lack of coherence and a poor connection to the academic field. In response to this issue, the current thesis work is aimed at developing comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of business design, defining its approach and value for companies. For this purpose, the study utilized a combination of existing theory of business design, together with insights from interviews with 15 experts in the field. The results of this study helped to identify the origins of the phenomenon, different forms and practical applications as well as illuminate the profile of a business design professional, her methods and tools. This knowledge is highly important for 1) business designers for professional growth, 2) management to cultivate business design competence, and 3) universities to provide subject-related courses.
Vartiainen, Matti
Thesis advisor
Nieminen, Johanna
business design, business development, innovation, design, service design, design thinking
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