Becoming Circular – Starting Circular Economy thinking in the company

Becoming Circular – Starting Circular Economy thinking in the company

Many companies are much more circular than they think. However, thinking in cycles is not common. For this reason, circular solutions are often not known within the company or are not consciously developed as a separate business model. The Circular Economy Workshop helps us to promote this thinking.

“Circular by chance”

The example of a mechanical engineering company shows how it works in practice with circular models: A production employee asked the question whether it would not be possible to sell used machines. These need considerably fewer resources and less effort in reprocessing than new ones. He is given the task of evaluating and testing this. How can this idea be implemented?

A Circular Value Chain was set up, logistics partners and other service providers were involved. This saves resources and requires new skills that enrich the working environment in production. And the design process needs this information: How can repairs be carried out quickly and easily? How do I enable an “upgrade” to newer technologies and IT platforms? Which parts are particularly required when using the machine? And so we come full circle internally. The company is enriched by a new business field, the cooperation within the company increases. Customer needs continue to be met. On request, the machine can be rented, leased or purchased with a return agreement. The idea led to success for the company. However, more by chance and thanks to an employee who was persistent.

Consciously striving for circularity

It is better and more promising if you consciously collect these ideas on circularity and work out a portfolio of measures for implementation. It is important to set up projects and develop new business models in a targeted manner. A workshop using the proven Circular Economy Toolkit is always fun. Together with the company, we consider which aspects should be examined and bring together a heterogeneous and interdisciplinary group of people. The different points of view serve a variety of solution approaches: the perspective of users, production and partners along the value chain. Within a very short period of time, ideas sprout up that at first seem partly absurd and not feasible.

However, we quickly give up this “this is not possible” attitude when we consider how it could be done. This brings us quickly to systemic thinking. “What would have to happen for it to work” is always the best question. “Well, if we were to do… it would be possible, but it’s not possible because…” And then we find ourselves in the field of assumptions that need to be challenged. We have a lot of them – to disclose them is a first great value of the workshop. And it can be easily transferred to daily business. “What does it take to…” instead of “you have to be able to do this in time” is an appreciative approach for many activities.

Solution approaches emerge

The transparency of assumptions helps both sides. Because suddenly I get the 2 hours a day I need to refine the business model. I find a team from different areas that give me feedback. Or I get the opportunity to present an idea at the customer event and collect feedback. Procedures from Design Thinking can be included in longer workshops to create a prototype directly. If there is not enough time for this, the ideas should be prioritized at least initially.

The prioritization is done under 2 aspects: How do we see the benefit or the economic possibilities of this idea? How feasible does it appear to be on the basis of current knowledge and procedures?

From each workshop, 3-5 ideas can be prioritized and followed up. Talk to us: We know the success factors to make thinking in cycles a standard in the company.