26-28 Sept.

Thursday, 26 Sep. 9:00–12:30


Mastering the Light Side and the Dark Side: How to Tackle Wicked Design AND Business Problems

/ Salvatore Larosa

Salvatore Larosa


To have a strong impact on products, services and values, designers at company level should be engaged from the strategic and business analysis phases of the project. Even if there is a trend towards the insourcing of design competencies, designers and product/business managers still have to overcome some common barriers to collaboration.

To foster a culture of empathy and users’ advocacy, designers and business managers should become ambidextrous: they should develop a shared language to construct a widespread view of business goals and methods.

If designers aim to make a stronger impact on the lives of both employees and customers, they must find a way of working along with business people, they have to go beyond internal stakeholders’ interviews about the product’s vision, and contribute to pave the way themselves. This entails that designers should develop strong value modelling skills as well as marketing/business strategy competencies: they need to embrace “business design” theory and practice. This is a “two-pronged approach”, in which designers can work at the business and at the user’s level at the same time.

During our workshop, participants will have the opportunity to start developing ambidexterity by tackling a problem possessing business as well as ethical implications. A new startup, “FoodRunner”, wants to enter the food delivery market. How can designers position the company and design its services without trampling on the legitimate rights of gig workers?

Participants will use specific tools to design the business platform, to position the brand, to model its net value, and to shape “FoodRunner”’s business model and services. They will be challenged to combine these techniques with conventional design models (empathy mapping, experience mapping, etc.).

Our goal is to display concretely how designers can blend business and human imperatives to create ethical business models. Such design-driven enterprises can have a deeper and more positive impact on the lives of all stakeholders: on shareholders, on employees, on customers, and on society as a whole. In such enterprises, a new breed of designers (integrating business modeling, product/service ideation and people centricity) will thrive and lead. We call them business designers.


Salvatore Larosa

Business and service designer, design lead. Background in Computer Science and MBA focusing on marketing and innovation management. I am digital strategy and service design lead in Poste Italiane, with 20+ years working on digital + cross-channel service ideation and design in business consultancies, design agencies and industrial companies.

During my work career, I have organized design practices, end-to-end methodologies (from market strategy to product development, rollout and management), and have started digital transformation activities, always addressing them from a business perspective. My current interests are now on business transformation from a change and people management perspective, to make organizations more agile and resilient to market dynamics.


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