How business design can transform companies
Generating value means more than economic growth
Generating value means more than economic growth
Traditional business leaders who fixate their eyes on economic growth may miss the opportunity for more significant value creation, says Creative Leader of Business & Brand Design, Ellen Lidgren. In this interview, originally published in SHIFTER, she and CEO Ulla Sommerfelt share their visions for the Business Design field in EGGS.
This article was originally published in Norwegian on Shifter.no.
Most businesses reach a critical point where the leaders experience that they need to redesign the entire business model. Changes in the market, digitalisation, the transition from product to service or requirements for sustainable operations force companies to transform.
These are critical stages in the company's journey and can result in drastic outcomes if the management makes the wrong choice. Ellen calls these moments strategic inflexion points. It is precisely in these critical stages that EGGS' business designers thrive.
"A strategic inflexion point is a crucial moment when an organisation must respond to change effectively. If not, the company may lose its competitive advantage. We saw several examples of this during the digitalisation of the business world. Not only did digital adaptation become an essential competitive advantage, but a necessity for the livelihood of entire industries - and that in just a few years", says Ellen.
Many businesses come to EGGS for help with their digital transformation. The task for our Business Designers is to help the business leaders in a context characterised by ambiguity and unpredictability. Not infrequently, working to develop new revenue streams from scratch is the key focus.
"Digitalisation was perhaps the most critical point of change ten years ago. Today, the transition to sustainable operations and circular economy is an equally important focus."Ellen Lidgren, Creative Leader Business & Brand Design, EGGS Design
"We again see those entire industries that must change, and it must happen fast." Ellen shares that companies need to change their strategies, update their organisation, or perhaps even the complete way that they operate.
The acute need for sustainable change is precisely the reason why EGGS is investing heavily in expanding further within in business design now looking for more employees.
"There is too much talk about monetary value and not enough focus on other types of value. In an organisational context, leaders and shareholders often perceive economic value as the only reasonable value. Economic value is what we are used to measuring and what we usually base our decisions on. We are used to thinking of a business as a machine. But not all decisions can or should be made solely on monetary value. If you only focus on maximising profits, you risk losing perspective - and thus miss out on new opportunities for value creation," says Ellen.
Ellen explains that a business designer focuses holistically on the business applying a combination of the designer's toolbox of creative methods with business understanding. The business designer has a hybrid role that mixes practice from several fields, such as service design, design strategy, product management, business analysis and management consulting.
"Designers are good at understanding people and their needs but are not always so focused on monetary value-creation. On the business side, thoughts and languages are more often technical and sophisticated. Emotional argumentation and 'gut feeling' often fall short in the business-focused environment, even though both disciplines are looking for the same thing - creating lasting value," she says.
Business design is a newer discipline. The profession is a consequence of the evolvement of design as a discipline. Traditionally, design was about the design of objects and graphics. The field of design then evolved to include the development process. For a Business Designer, design now also includes designing business strategies and models. Traditionally, management consultants have had a monopoly on long-term strategic planning. We now see that the business market demands other problem-solving skills, which design, and technology offers.
"In EGGS, we work with our clients on reformulating all or parts of their business. In addition to assessing the visual and physical aspects of the company that their end-customers see and experience, we work on their entire value chain behind their products or services. We then help the company balance any tensions between their end-customers, their business processes and their financial value creation."
A business designer has skills within design, experience from design processes, and competence within finance and business. We seek the entrepreneurial types - those who are good at recognising opportunities. We need people who can build long-term relationships with clients. A business designer is also a consultant. She says that a lot of the service the business designer delivers is the actual dialogue and catering for the transformation process for the business.
"A business designer must be creative as a designer when the customer is too analytical and strategic as a businessperson when the client is too vague."Ellen Lidgren, Creative Leader Business & Brand Design, EGGS Design
The appreciation of design has increased in many organisations, Ellen confirms. More and more business leaders are using design methods and design thinking to solve problems. And designers are gaining more and more mandate, respect and understanding as design maturity increases. Business leaders have begun to understand that using design methods and tools at a strategic level can help close the gap between the company's intentions and their actual results.
"Business design is becoming more and more integrated as a discipline in the innovation processes of our clients. We see that design can provide value to the organisation, both operationally, commercially, humanly, and technologically, and at a tactical and strategic level," she says.
This is why business design is valuable in the green shift. Entire systems must be redesigned so that companies, suppliers, and clients can easily use resources repeatedly. The goal is growth for the business, but we will also leave a positive legacy for the next generations. Building a profitable, future-proof business today requires a change from the traditional model.
"Companies have for a long time been transforming by trying to switch from selling products to offering these products as services."Ellen Lidgren, Creative Leader Business & Brand Design, EGGS Design
"The next challenge comes naturally: How do you scale? Many companies do not have standardised processes, and leaders are not used to scaling up service processes or service experiences. Many leaders have experience with product launches of physical products, not of services," says Lidgren. Transformation from product to service is a typical client project for us in EGGS."
Using the design thinking on business models is a natural development for the consultancy, according to the CEO of EGGS, Ulla Sommerfelt.
"Everything is designed. Business models have also been designed."Ulla Sommerfelt, CEO, EGGS Design
"Design is about creating something out of nothing. Using the methods of business design in business development is relatively new. Still, we experience that it works because you often do not know what the actual problem at hand is", Ulla says, adding that business design will be essential for EGGS in the future.
Ulla Sommerfelt co-founded EGGS in 2012. She started the company with a strong desire to create an interdisciplinary design environment with a more holistic focus on innovation.
"We have more and more technical things at home, at work, in the health-care system and in public institutions. We saw the need to design with a holistic perspective. In addition, I had the ambition to create the world's best workplace for creative people."Image does not have required `asset` property
"A business designer must be able to behave like a designer when the customer is too analytical, and like a businessperson when the customer is too vague."Ellen Lidgren, Creative Leader Business & Brand Design, EGGS Design
"Inspirational offices, flexible working hours and seamless IT systems are hygiene factors for a creative consultancy. We want to take it a step further and have created a place where colleagues develop professionally and personally given free reins to creativity and innovation. People should be themselves with room to deal with life, such as a life crisis. We are all human beings, not machines," says Ulla.
"Creativity and innovation thrive best in a workplace with high psychological security and caring for each other are essential."Ulla Sommerfelt, CEO, EGGS Design
"Many workplaces make people sick and unhappy. I believe that a workplace should never foster fear. There must be room to say no, to come up with ideas, and share unfinished work without being afraid of unreasonable criticism or that a colleague will take credit for the idea."
Empathy is an essential value in the company's management culture. But leading with empathy does not mean being nice all the time, according to Ulla: "This does not mean that you should feel overwhelmed on behalf of others or be shy of conflict."
"We are a professional environment with high demands for quality, and we hold each other responsible for deliveries. Frequent feedback is a natural part of our working methods, but that does not mean it has to be a harsh environment. Giving feedback with care and in the right amounts, it is the best way to develop.", shares Ulla.
EGGS has experienced tremendous growth in Norway and Denmark, and now the goal is to expand even more internationally.
We already have many international clients and enjoy employees from 25 different nationalities and we are recruiting from all over the world. Our ambition is to become even more global. It gives us more opportunities to develop our services further while creating an even more exciting place to work.
"Design is about creating something out of nothing. It is new to use business design as a method in business development, but it works because you often do not know what the problem is."Ulla Sommerfelt, CEO, EGGS Design
"We develop a close relationship with our clients and hence gain a lot of trust from them. Many clients return to us with further innovation challenges. At the same time, this way of thinking about design is relatively new. Business design is a growing area of expertise, so more and more companies are becoming aware of how designers contribute to business transformation." explains Ulla. She continues:
"We only want to hire the best, as we must live up to a high level of quality to our clients. And talented people want to work with talented people. But those who work here must also be team players, not sharp elbowed “know-it-all's” who climb over others to achieve personal goal. We are looking for a combination of competence and cultural match and want a good balance of employees with different experiences, competence, perspective, and backgrounds" she rounds off.
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