Interview with Founders Grid

Merging Design Thinking and Business Thinking with Jeffrey Tjendra, DEO of Business Innovation by Design.


Jeffrey, please introduce yourself…

I’m Jeffrey Tjendra, design executive officer (DEO) of Business Innovation by Design. We guide businesses on what and how to innovate and grow using a new knowledge model I created combining design thinking, business thinking, and futures thinking.

This is me and the consultant’s hat that I put on. Otherwise, I am a designer at heart, who loves to create new products, services, experiences and knowledge models. I travel quite a bit between Americas and Asia, but I reside in Toronto, Singapore, and Malaysia.

What’s the story behind creating business innovation by design and can you explain what you do?

As you are aware of, we are in the midst of paradigm shift where the role of design is becoming increasingly important to organizations. Whether they are startups, SMEs, or MNCs, the values of design are being proven to impact the bottom line, not just simply as an aesthetic tool.

At the same time, we have many what I call the “value creating” and “value orchestration” disciplines. “Value creating” disciplines like design thinking, strategic foresight, brand development to name a few, are ideologies and approach that focuses on creating the new, while the latter focuses on managing created value effectively such as lean startup, innovation management, and business development.

Each of these discipline adds value to some aspects of a business, but not all. However, we have many discipline experts who claim that you only need one or two disciplines to grow your business sustainably.

For an example, many brand experts would say that you need to build a brand to grow your business (I don’t have beef with brand experts). And to make things worse, they may have a rigorous 100-step process to achieve it.

If only these discipline experts can see the big picture on how one discipline connects to other disciplines, they will have a much better understanding on the true benefits of a multidisciplinary approach to design businesses.

Thus, Business Innovation Design is born out of understanding the convergence of both value creating and orchestration disciplines. If you study closely, there are overlaps of approaches in these disciplines.

All I did was to connect the overlapping approaches and draw how values flows to one another from design to business that is expressed in a visual model. If the outcome is not beautiful, there is something wrong with the inner-workings and how it is represented.

There are two levels on how BID works. The first level is to use BID as a mapping tool to map both of business model and business plan. The second level is to use BID as a methodology to design a business in 3 phases – understand the context, design the value, and orchestrate for growth.

There are 24 blocks which you will need your own judgement on what blocks to use in the phases and how you sequence the blocks to create your own approach. It is like playing LEGO on designing your business, its fun.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

There is no day with a set of routine. However, there are activities that I do consistently. A chunk of my time is spent on thinking on new ideas, preparing slides, and writing articles.

Another chunk of my time is spent on co-creating with my partners, and consulting and conducting workshops. The remainder of my time is spent between networking, replying inquiries, improving the website and admin work.

What challenges did you face when launching?

It has been challenging for me to get people to understand what BID is about and how it benefits them, especially when not many people are building business out of an intellectual model.

So I will typically get engaged with new prospects when they have at least read or saw BID model. That leads to the extremely limited existence business model for commercializing knowledge models that I can’t follow. So I have to create my own path.

Acquiring funding is hard too as BID is still at a startup stage with where our growth pathway is not a hockey-stick line. Sponsorship so far has worked well. So I have been experimenting with creating new value offerings and apply different revenue models to fund this on my own.

What strategies are you using to market business innovation by design?

We have two target users; the companies (startups, SMEs, and MNCs) and the consulting firms (business and design). Hence, marketing to each of them are different.

What I initially tried was to use direct-selling on the companies, but it was not effective because we always end up back on the loop of educating and marketing BID in the short period of face-to-face meeting.

What is working instead is to shift from selling to marketing by building thought leadership and forging partnerships with early adopters. The early adopters are innovators, professors, consultants, directors and partners from consulting firms who have helped to generate word-of-mouth as they shared BID approach to their network.

What’s the reasoning behind being located in multiple locations?

The offices around the world are my partners’ offices. Its main role is to set up a presence and activity hub in the region where BID can be conducted. Having multiple locations allow us to leverage our partners’ networks and value offerings in their regions.

When growth allows, where do you want to expand next, and why?

At this point in time when I’m looking to expand regionally in South East Asia and South America because our partners and activity hubs are located in Singapore and Sao Paolo.

In the long-term I’m looking to expand to South Africa because Africa is an emerging market and many businesses can benefit from BID.

What’s next for you and business innovation by design?

We are always on the lookout for potential partners and collaborators to co-create value together. Otherwise, building thought leadership and spreading the awareness of BID.


This post is originally published at Founders Grid.

Jeffrey Tjendra