My story: From learning about circular economy to taking action

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I got interested in CE while taking a sustainability class as part of my MBA few years ago. The potential that CE brings to our lives, ways we do business and run governments is extremely inspiring. I currently work as a business and service designer, consulting with all kinds of companies, big and small, on improving their customer experience and the value they deliver. However, I realized that within my clients, there’s there’s very little awareness of what CE is, and confusion about how it implement some principles into their business.

I identified 2 main barriers in making CE implementation easier:

Barrier 1: Most books and journals are published by academics using a language that’s not communicating to the entrepreneur thinking of launching a startup, or the executive looking to make their company more sustainable. These people don’t have time to research, read reports or books. They want quick tools.

Barrier 2: These same books and academic journals have a broad focus, looking at infrastructure, operations, production, supply chain, etc. It is the starting point of understanding CE, but when a young entrepreneur or business executive looks at the butterfly chart for example, I noticed they have a hard time connecting it to what they do. It’s a starting point, but it’s missing the connection on how they go from there to implementation, or a framework for how they can take certain elements and directly adopt them into their business. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation/IDEO collaboration have been producing a lot of good frameworks, but I think there’s still more work to be done.

Based on these 2 challenges, I’m currently working on 2 initiatives:

1) From what I’ve experienced while working in the consulting space, I started developing a customer-centric framework and discussion guide to help executives understand what CE could look to them from a customer experience perspective. It’s a chart followed by a list of questions that service and experience designers can use to map the service blueprint and develop more value. While I’m the first to recognize the system is not perfect, it’s a starting point on how to make CE more actionable. (See: service design opportunities in CE discussion document attached).

2) The second initiative has become my side passion project. It consists in trying to tackle the problem from a systems thinking perspective by going to the source, that is: education. I believe CE should be compulsory part of the high school curriculum. There are a lot of high schools that teach entrepreneurship or have some kind of business program, and therese are excellent places to introduce CE. Based on this, I developed card game (see circular design cards picture attached) to bring basic concepts and ideas to business/ entrepreneurship high school students, and help them come up with more sustainable business ideas. During the last 3 months, I made lots of revisions to get the card deck right. I just finished a first prototype that’s ready to use in classrooms. I have identified local teachers in my area that want to test it, so that’s going to be my focus for 2019.

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