Business Design

Why Business Design?

As the world of business becomes evermore sophisticated and impacted by social and cultural factors, traditional models of management consulting fail to holistically understand both the context and condition of today's business problems. Business Design is a post-disciplinary and ethnographic approach to solving these problems, integrating perspectives from a wide arrange of practice and theory in a manner that celebrates the boundaries of disciplines as opportunities for co-creation and innovation instead of an impediment or boundary by which our work is contained. 

As a Business Designer, I approach every problem with the desire to understand the big picture - from organizational culture to end-user experience. A holistic view of why you do business, how you do business, and what your business actually does is critical to identifying the things that inhibit your ability to grow, innovate, and create lasting value. I've learned that the most successful companies in the world are so because they've aligned three fundamental components of their business - brand, organization, and product / service.

Business Design Framework:

What Business Design Looks Like

I take a human-centered approach to Business Design that consists of three phases:

Phase One: Hear 

Interviews & Research

Goal: Gain a deep understanding of your needs, aspirations, constraints, and the opportunities that lie ahead.

  • Activate already existing knowledge.
  • Gain a deep understanding of your brand, organization, and product or service
  • Question assumptions
  • Discover new insights
  • Fuel inspiration.

Typical scenarios at this phase of the project include workshop style interviews with organizational leaders, users and customers, and project partners. With qualitative research, we’ll investigate all aspects of your business through the lens of our business design trivium - brand, organization, and product.

Phase Two: Create

Synthesis & Interpretation

Goal: A clear vision for the future of your business growth, and a strategy for achieving it.

  • Translate insights into opportunities
  • Develop strategic direction
  • Determine solutions that are feasible and viable

There are three key activities in the Create phase: synthesis, brainstorming, and validating. This stage allows us to translate inspiration into ideas and stories into business design strategy. Validation is the process of determining the desirability, feasibility, and viability of business design strategies that are compelling for all constituents.

Phase Three: Deliver


Goal: The realization of the necessary tactics for long term growth and viability.

  • Build the necessary teams, processes, and tools
  • Activate growth tactics
  • Measure what works
  • Iterate and optimize

Implementation is the process of building the necessary systems in your business to achieve your business goals. Whether you are trying to cultivate a culture of innovation, design a new product, plan for succession, or grow into a new market, my team of partners and I will walk with you through every step.  

Advisory and Consulting Services

Business Designers are required to consider a broad range of business facets, I'm always willing to discuss these facets with you on any level.

  • Strategy (strategic planning and mapping, growth, value audits)
  • Brand (design, nomenclature, strategy, engagement, activation, branded spaces)
  • Marketing & Advertising (communications, content, CRM, touchpoints, digital media, storytelling)
  • Organizational Design (culture building, soft systems, technology integration and adoption, human resources, workplace design, succession planning, leadership development)
  • Product Development (ideation, design research, market research, prototyping)

Past Projects

  • Virginia Mason Institute
  • Costco
  • Seattle City Light
  • Gramercy Cellars
  • Microsoft
  • Loma Linda University Medical Center
  • Lydig Construction
  • Impact Hub
  • Rwanda Partners


I marveled at all the smart people at the table, all saying very intelligent and important sounding things, many talking over or past each other. I’m a bit out of my element so usually sit quietly, listening, and noticed someone else just listening as well. He did that a lot. But he did speak up, when he had something to add to the conversation. I noticed that he knew his stuff. And I noticed that everyone else stopped talking when he spoke, and listened, intently. And there was usually a few moments of quiet as his message was absorbed, and the conversation would then launch into an exciting new direction. Joel knows his stuff. I asked Joel to join the Ladybug House Board of Directors, and am extremely glad he agreed to serve. I always listen to Joel.
— Bernel Goldberg, General Counsel at Seattle Art Museum
Joel is a business savvy thought leader and has brought new thinking to our firm. He is highly articulate and very practical in his approach. I hope to work with Joel again soon!
— Mark Conway, VP of Business Development at Lydig Construction
I have had the pleasure to work with Joel Fariss at the architectural design firm NBBJ. NBBJ is one of the largest architectural and design firms in the country with offices across the US and internationally in Europe and Asia. I have encountered very few individuals professionally who make such a positive impact as Joel.

After working directly with Joel, I find his thinking and style of communication clear, thoughtful, positive, and collaborative. It is rare to find a person like Joel whose depth of thought builds momentum and energy around new ideas. He helps architectural teams bring meaning to the work we do, the forms we create, and he builds confidence with clients.

I highly recommend Joel for any position that strives for collaboration, depth of thought, leadership, and excellence.
— Katie Davis, LEED® AP Senior Associate at NBBJ
Joel makes good things great through his ability to elevate aspirations of those around him. Joel is a strong, forward-thinking leader that would be a great asset to any organization that is looking to engage new markets, create efficiency, or explore new ways to improve creative culture.
— Sam Stubblefield, Artist / Designer / Futurist / Speaker