Navigating the design to manufacture journey: Thinking about your business model

Posted on: 10/07/2020

Getting your business model right is essential for creating products and services that are market and customer aligned.

Innovation is not just about developing a product. It’s about developing a commercially viable, business proposition. The importance of this can sometimes be overlooked by engineers and scientists who become focused on the technology.

Central to developing a commercially viable proposition is understanding the relationships between the opportunity, the offer and your capability. KTN’s Innovation Canvas can provide a framework for asking the broader questions beyond those associated with Navigating the Design to Manufacture Journey. Other tools, like this one from The Innovation Caucus, also exist. Don’t worry too much about the specific tool. What is important is that you are thinking through the breadth of options necessary for successful innovation.

Insights from webinar

We’ve collated some key reflections from the Building a Business Case webinar we recorded looking at business models. You can view a recording of the webinar here.

  • Make sure you clearly understand user needs. Focus your business around this clear customer need, then align your resources, processes and revenue model to this new value proposition. Flexibility and opportunity to respond to the market are key to success. Experimentation is essential. Do not assume you already know what your customers want. Test things with your customer as you design, to understand their interest in each feature of your product.
  • Stay connected to what is happening. A designer’s key skill is not design – it is observation.
  • Talk to people different from you; diversity is strength in the creative process.
  • There are many products out there and only one can be the cheapest. Find a different way to compete. Competing on cost is a race to the bottom.
  • Innovate the experience: How do you engage with customers and how do they engage with you? Think about physical and digital interaction, brand, and channel.
  • Innovate the configuration: How is your business organised or structured to create value? Think about transactions, your business structure, network and revenue model.
  • Data matters but insights trump data. Relax – moving from focused thinking enhances creativity and can lead to insights. But data is a measure of what has already happened. Do not rush to the current trend, try to identify what is next. It is about observation and having your radar on. The challenge is to innovate for what will happen. Are there new, surprising, innovative insights or ‘ah-ha’ moments? Use the list of insights and opportunities to develop ideas.


We’ve been running a series of weekly webinars, Navigating the Design to Manufacture Journey, during lockdown, where we engaged with several industry experts exploring all aspects of systems thinking from funding and investment to scaling up manufacturing. If you managed to join us for some or all of these webinars, great. If not, you can catch up on recordings from the series here.

Our previous article on Managing Costs looked at considerations for managing the costs in your business as you scale up your manufacturing. You can read it here.

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