A Cultrual Framework for Circularity

Together with Shailendra Singh CEO of SustainMantra, I created a webinarseries on the CE in relation to Sustainable Development in 2020. After two years we yet recognized that the Circular Economy is built around too many ideals such as ideal consumer behavior as part of the ideal business model. We also recognized that circular approaches often start with the business models, for instance viewing that circularity is a business case, when circularity in itself may not fill a market or consumer demand on a product or an innovation. As a result, a business model for the CE risks not to succeed.

Most CE models take a “resource”view of things and expect the consumer to change their behaviour to adapt to their model. Unfortunately that’s not a recipe for success. The power of the consumer to influence resource usage is therefore minimised or undervalued in those models. It’s time to rethink CE and make the model customer centric., this is where it all should start. Shailendrea Singh, CEO SustainMantra

We began thinking about a new way of looking at the circular economy framework and felt that too little attention has been paid on the importance of the consumer. That is the individual consumer and consumer culture, which we belief should be looked at first without judgment “as people are” within the given ecosystem. Currently consumers are more specifically expected to adjust their behavior and are also judged if they are not. This may be counterproductive, because their behavior and their lifestyles “as it is” could instead be used as a driver for innovation and success in business model innovation.

After talking to individuals, how they engage and not engage in business models and why, but also how they simply “are”, we came up with the “AS-IS framework” for circularity. The framework does not aim at giving answers to challenges, but aims at emphasizing that people are different, and because they are different (think about inequalities or different tastes or different ways of being), they may not want to or cannot participate in a business model based on CE ideals (i.e. not wanting to take care of a product, not wanting to drive an hour to return furniture, not wanting timeless design, not wanting to rent a couch because of children that likely color on it etc.).

With the AS-IS framework, we want to emphasize that differences in individuality and culture with their subjectivity are okay too. We propose that Design and Business models instead, may focus on the lack of ideals and begin with thinking about the consumer (diversity) within the given ecosystem first.

Curious on more and how to integrate the AS IS framework into your organization? Contact me and/or us for a training session.