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Stage 3: Design

How to create innovative business ideas for future markets

After developing a clear vision and strong understanding of your customers’ needs, your industry’s playing field, and future developments in the previous two stages, it’s now time to use this foundation as a springboard into future possibilities. In Stage 3: Design Value, your team and Future Proof’s Strategy Designers co-design innovative business ideas, value propositions, and business models to test in the next stage.

Note: This blog post is the second in a series of five as we explore each stage of Future Proof’s methodology to Becoming a Future Proof organization. If you are new to our methodology, check out this post for an overview of our approach!

Stage 3 Design Value

Design Value is the third stage of Future Proof’s methodology and utilizes design thinking practices and lean start-up methods to ideate innovative value propositions and business models that will deliver value to tomorrow’s markets. During the Design Value stage, you also build the capacity of your organization’s creative confidence through proven innovation techniques and our ideation tools.

At the end of the Design Value stage, you will have:

✓ Designed one or more value propositions and/or innovative business models to validate in the next stage
✓ Built organizational capacity in ideation techniques
✓ Developed the creative confidence of your team

Determining the design criteria for your innovative value propositions

In the first step of the Design Value stage, you use the wealth of insights gained from the previous two stages to develop your design criteria. Your design criteria are the essential attributes and outcomes an innovative value proposition needs to achieve to be a desirable product or service. Future Proof’s Strategy Designers will walk you through defining your design criteria that will guide your ideation activities:

  • Design goal: what core unmet customer needs do you want to focus on?
  • User perceptions: what expectations would a customer have of a solution?
  • Attributes: what possible context, form, and functions would a value proposition have to accomplish?
  • Constraints: what are your operational constraints, including project-related constraints (i.e., timeline, budget) and regulations?

For example, consider that you are a food distributor that has discovered through the previous two stages that supermarkets are throwing away a lot of wilted fruits and vegetables as they can’t keep them fresh, while many customers are also demanding a greater variety of produce. In developing your design criteria, you may decide to concentrate on delivering a solution that allows the grocery stores to quickly deliver freshly picked vegetables to their customers. From your customer discovery interactions with local supermarkets, you know that most stores would expect a solution that allows them to store produce for longer periods of time. However, most supermarkets are not willing to invest significant amounts of time or money in cold storage options. You and your team use these constraints to begin working on ideas to shorten transport time and keep vegetables fresh until they are ready to be bought by a customer.

Ideating multiple options for innovation

After defining your design criteria, you and your team begin co-developing ideas on sustainable value creation with our Strategy Designers. You learn to embrace divergent thinking – the process of generating a diverse array of ideas that challenge status quos and embrace the impossible. At Future Proof, we also believe strongly that true innovation cuts across departments, sectors, and industries. Therefore, our Strategy Designers work alongside your team to spark outside-the-box thinking by bringing in diverse perspectives and sourcing unconventional inspiration for ideas. This ideation process is further enriched from your customer discovery findings and future discovery insights, including how you can leverage new technological developments (think: nanotechnology, 5G, and embedded intelligence), socioeconomic trends (think: increased longevity, urbanization, and health concerns), and upcoming legislation (think: European Green Deal).

Using our canvas tools and ideation techniques, your team and our Strategy Designers will generate new innovative business ideas. Knowing that there are multiple directions an organization can innovate; we do not constrict ideas to new product lines. We open the doors to entirely new market positions, value offerings, and reimaged business models, including:

  • Ideas that take the organization in surprising new directions
  • Ideas that challenge previous assumptions
  • Ideas that open up entirely new business models
  • Ideas that can potentially disrupt your industry for years to come

Our idea management platform also offers your key stakeholders, including those not directly working on the innovation team, the opportunity to contribute ideas and give constructive feedback on new value propositions.

Going back to the food distributor example, you may explore low-cost storage options before gleaning insights the agricultural sector on new developments allowing produce to be grown closer to where it is ultimately consumed. After learning about these new indoor farming technologies from our Strategy Designers, you and your team begin ideating on value propositions that provide supermarkets the ability to grow some of their vegetables on site, while keeping costs low.

Refining possible value propositions

Once you have ideated on reimagined futures and possibilities, our Strategy Designers work with you to refine and select ideas to take onto the validation stage. You use our canvas tools to narrow down ideas and tease out the riskiest assumptions of these ideas. The riskiest assumptions are the underlying presumptions and beliefs that the idea hinges on but has not been tested. Many companies do not take the time to question the underlying assumptions behind value offerings, resulting in failed launches and discarded models. You and your team will unpack and probe these assumptions, including by answering questions such:

  • Does the proposed value offering solve our customers’ pain points?
  • Are these pain points big enough for customers to seek out a solution? Or are there current workarounds that customers prefer to use to address these pain points?
  • Who else is providing similar solutions to your customers?
  • What is the willingness to pay?
  • What sales channels could you use to distribute your value proposition?

After converging on several viable options to test in the next stage, you will begin the process of selecting methods to validate these new value propositions. In our hypothetical food distributor example, this could be a new business model to offer indoor hydroponic grow pods for supermarkets to grow and display greens, allowing customers the ability to buy fresh-picked vegetables.

At the end of the Design Value stage, you and your team will have one or more innovative value propositions and/or business models to validate in the next stage of Becoming Future Proof. Read on to learn about how rapid validation tools can ensure that your new value proposition has a strong market fit BEFORE spending valuable time and resources on implementation and production.

Do you still have questions about the Explore the Future stage of our methodology? Please reach out to us here to discover how we can empower your organization to gain clarity of its position in the market and chart your success in tomorrow’s world!