Business origami is paper prototyping for systems design. It uses simple paper cutouts to represent the different parts of a system: the people, the locations, the channels used and the specific touchpoints where interactions occur and value is exchanged as a particular scenario unfolds. These cutouts are arranged on a horizontal whiteboard, which allows participants to show relationships in the system. I got introduced to business origami over dinner at Weatherhead business school with a visiting Japanese researcher. Despite the language barrier, we really connected talking about different methods for service design. He showed me photos from a student workshop led by the Hitachi Design Centre. The Hitachi designers had invented a new service walkthrough method and called it business origami. Based on that chat, I’ve reverse engineered the approach and extended it for my own practice. I hope you enjoy!
Update: August 4, 2011 – It looks like the Hitachi Design Centre team now has a brief page up on their site about business origami (Japanese).
Here’s a quick slideshare over view of how the components work together.
Business origami works best in a workshop setting, with multiple people from different areas of the system you’re exploring. You can use it to show the current, as-is, system and also to explore new alternatives.
If you’d like to try this yourself, here’s the Business Origami Shapes PDF.
If you’re interested in how business origami could benefit your organization, please get in touch.