Business Origami is a method that has been invented by the Hitachi Design Center. It uses paper cut-outs as symbolic representations of people, groups, channels and environments, to create a miniature model of a system. The cut-outs are placed on a whiteboard or a big piece of paper where the different areas, interactions and flows between the system elements are drawn.

When do I use this method?

You can use Business Origami when you want to create a tangible, shared representation of a system, so that everyone easily takes the same perspective. It is also a good method if you want to prototype service design touch points.

How do I use this method?

Think about which system you want to model. Then download a given set of Business Origami elements, e.g. from here.

  1. Cut out the elements that you need for representing your system – people, buildings, channels, etc.
  2. Label the different elements.
  3. Then look for a whiteboard or a big piece of paper, put it on a table and place all elements on it.
  4. Start with the first two elements and outline the interaction between them by drawing arrows with a pen on the whiteboard/paper. Label the arrows if needed.
  5. Continue with the rest of the elements, until all elements and their interactions are modelled.

You can now analyze the current status quo or rework the relationships between the elements in order to explore new options. Before you move the elements, do not forget to take photos so that you can compare different arrangements.

What are the benefits?

Business Origami allows for rapid experimentation. It creates a shared mental model of an existing system and helps to explore new possibilities within the system. As it is a very tangible system model, it usually has a greater impact than computer-generated system models.

Try it out and let us know about your experiences by commenting to this post!

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