The future is closer than you think - new jobs in business innovation

Have you ever heard about a Business Designer? What about a Venture Architect? What does it mean to be a Growth Hacker? This article explores some of the questions behind the job profiles that will he
João Barbosa
May 25, 2020
João Barbosa
Business Designer

Have you ever heard about a Business Designer? What about a Venture Architect? What does it mean to be a Growth Hacker? This article explores some of the questions behind the job profiles that will help shape the next decade in business innovation.

“The Times They Are a-Changin'” (song)

Bob Dylan 

The Nobel prize laureate crystallized the timeless sentiment of change that once again seems to permeate our lives. The world has changed and his time for companies and business professionals to follow suit. 

The exponential world we live in demands new digital skills, new ways of working and collaborating. It’s time for businesses to rethink their organisational structure, to re-skill/up-skill the workforce, to look for new ways to approach innovation.

How to ride the next innovation wave?

The wave of technological breakthroughs (digital networks, software, information technology) that sustained continuous innovation over the past two decades seems to have reached its peak. 

Businesses have been investing heavily in innovation and transformation initiatives in an attempt to ride the next wave (automation, robotics, digitalization, sustainability) and build products that can reach or even surpass the scale of the iPhone - the most successful retail product ever released.

Some of these initiatives haven’t always delivered on the expected business outcomes. However, stop investing in innovation is not an option.

In order to succeed, businesses need to bridge the world of product innovation and customer experience with business reality. They need a Business Designer, a Venture Architect and a Growth Hacker. 

The Business Designer 

Business Design emerged as a response to the limitations of traditional business thinking - linear, product-centered, siloed, short-sighted. 

It combines the human-centred principles from design with the commercially driven attitude that characterizes most businesses. 

At Untaylored, we define a Business Designer as …

“the person who designs for long term business viability by combining a human-centred approach to business problems with a strategic, analytical, lean and financially driven skill set.”

According to Tsukasa Tanimoto, who has written extensively about it, the Business Designer is mainly responsible for: 

  1. framing, directing and/or informing the design process through a business lens to ensure design solves business problems effectively;
  2. translating design solutions into value and impact through a language that business stakeholders are familiar with to prove design provides solutions to business problems;
  3. applying human-centred methodologies to strengthen business and financial components of design work to create services and products that are viable;

In other words, business design applies design and design thinking to business problems with the objective of bringing innovation to life.

Some of the Business Designer tasks involve:

  • Analyse disruptive market trends and products 
  • Define growth strategies and opportunities 
  • Design and test new business models and monetization strategies
  • Translate design choices into measurable outcomes
  • Conduct financial analysis, forecasts and implement KPIs
  • Design new value propositions and optimize for product/market fit

Across all these activities there’s always an emphasis on the collaboration with other designers (service designers, interaction designers, research designers) and a bias towards experimentation. 

Looking at a business designer’s background, they often have prior experience in innovation management, business consulting, strategy design, but also entrepreneurial driven roles in startups/venture capital firms.

The Venture Architect

Also known as Venture Builder, the Venture Architect is yet another role that promises to shake the corporate innovation landscape in the next decade. 

A Venture Architect is responsible for defining the field of opportunity and establishing the scope for a new venture. Main area of focus is to design and test the operational and commercial aspects of the business. 

In other words, it’s his role to translate the concept into the operational roadmap, define roles, responsibilities and activities. We can summarize the venture architect’s main responsibilities as following:

  1. Scan and create: Explore and test new business ideas and opportunities
  2. Design and execute: Define the operational and commercial structures and strategies
  3. Lead and communicate: Guide the development of the venture with the team and the corporate client

Alongside these lines, the daily tasks of a venture architect can include:

  • Scan for novel business insights and turn them into attractive business concepts
  • Examine the market size and build business cases for a potential venture
  • Pitch innovative ventures to corporate boards 
  • Define and execute go-to-market strategies 
  • Draw and analyse customer journey maps
  • Assemble and co-drive a corporate venture team
  • Analyse customer segments and test hypotheses through rapid prototyping

This role is driven by a highly entrepreneurial mindset and knowledge of design thinking, lean startup, and agile development principles. The venture architect is also expected to possess good leadership and communication skills.

Previous experiences include high exposure to entrepreneurship such as startup, venture capital or startup accelerator roles. Experiences launching and managing large projects and businesses in corporate environments are also valued. 

The Growth Hacker

Although the term is not new - Growth Hacking was coined back in 2010 by Sean Ellis and later popularized by Andrew Chen - the Growth Hacker role and subsequent practices have been slowly making their way from the startup community into wider corporate acceptance in recent years. 

A Growth Hacker is part marketeer and part software engineer. A growth hacker comes up with ideas to grow and retain customers and sell products. They do this by setting up growth experiments using data and technology. They live, breathe and constantly think about ways to grow their user base. 

This person is responsible for designing, implementing and analysing strategies that can yield the highest conversion rates at the lowest possible cost, working towards long term sustainable growth. 

The core aspects of the job include:

  1. Designing and optimising customer acquisition processes 
  2. Management and optimisation of multiple digital channels, platforms and campaigns
  3. Continuous testing and experimentation at scale

Looking into the tasks in more detail, a Growth Hacker is busy...

  • Planning, executing and optimizing multi-channel growth strategies 
  • Implementing A/B and multivariate testing
  • Measuring and analysing key performance indicators such as LTC, CAC, Churn rate…
  • Developing automated growth processes and marketing initiatives
  • Building reports and dashboards 

Optimism, passion for digital businesses and an entrepreneurial spirit are all valuable qualities for this position. Being comfortable around data is also increasingly important.

Companies hiring for this position look for previous experiences in marketing, building and launching products in fast-paced high growth environments such as startups and scaleups. 

Putting it all together

Each of these roles can play a major role in the success of your innovation strategy, from spotting the right opportunity to conceptualizing, building and growing your next venture.

As Bob Dylan puts beautifully…

Your old road is

Rapidly agin'.

Please get out of the new one

If you can't lend your hand

For the times they are a-changin'.

The old business road is agin’ and the companies who cannot adapt will be pushed out of the new road.

Other Articles

Other Articles

João Barbosa

How to rethink your business in times of Covid-19

Learn how leading companies such as Uber, Airbnb and MoMA got on their feet and reacted fast to the economic shock caused by the pandemic.

Roald Larsen

Organizational agility in times of Covid-19

Agile organizations are responding quickly and exploring new opportunities presented by the Covid19 crisis. We had a look at 10 companies you can learn from.

Roald Larsen

How Start-ups Use Growth Loops - 5 Examples

Staggering growth rates and ever-increasing engagement rates... Rather than thinking in linear funnels, marketeers and entrepreneurs increasingly think in loops. And for good reasons... Here is why

Roald Larsen

A Practical Guide To Corporate Innovation, The Right Way

Corporate Innovation may seem a daunting task without the right planning, strategy and tools. We'll cover 2 essentials strategy tools to help you set direction and book results fast.