Business’S cool- The Context of Business

Author: Jacqueline

The Design Strategy course at George Brown is neatly divided into three sections. First, we look at the context of business, then we get into the details of marketing and finally we end with integrating the design process into the business process.


This week we’re going to talk about the context of business. We all interact with a variety of businesses on a daily basis. Whether you pick up your morning coffee at a Starbucks, local independent coffee shop or by fresh beans at the grocery store to brew at home, by 9am, you have interacted with a wide variety of businesses. Someone made the coffee maker, someone pays rent and hires people at the coffee shop and someone hooked up the electrical outlets in your home. Each of those functions comes from a different business and each business has a history, vision, strategy, core competencies and operational plans. Each business is also affected by what is happening in its specific industry, the economy and the external environment.

We start with giving the students an understanding of how businesses operate and why they operate the way they do. We look at the driving forces of the organization. Then, we look at the businesses strategy, core competencies and operational functions. From there, we analyze the internal strengths and weaknesses, relative to the above mentioned strategic plan. Finally, we explore the external forces affecting business- the economy (how many of you buy less coffee on the go since the recession?), the environment and other social and regulatory factors affect and influence the business.

Essentially, we can all go on designing stuff, based on client briefs, because our bosses told us to, or because we just feel like creating new products. If we take the time to understand the business environment of our client, our industry or our own company, we bring an entirely new perspective to the design process. We not only design, but design in relation to the functioning business which gives us greater capacity, knowledge and insight that ever before. If we work from the corporate vision, focusing down through the organization and then widening back to the industry and external environment we can get an all encompassing view of what is really going on in business, allowing us to produce and manage stronger designs.

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