Time: 12:00 – 1:00pm
Room: Brandenburg Gate
Session 6: Innovative Approaches to Sustainable Product Development
Presenter: Max Marwede, TU Berlin
Co-Authors: Melanie Jaeger-Erben, Robert Maurer
The ecodesign approach (design for repair, reuse, upgrade, longevity, remanufacturing, …) is one way to reduce the environmental impacts of products along their life-cycle. Although there are many ecodesign methods and toolsets available such as (simplified) life-cycle assessments, ecodesign-guidelines and -checklists, they are not widely adopted by the industry in order to develop more sustainable products. The main reasons for this is their complexity, variety and level of knowledge and know-how required beforehand. However, in order to understand how products are developed and whether or not ecodesign is integrated into the product development process, we interviewed developers from six companies of the electronics industry (startups and corporates) and one expert in a semi-structured approach. The interviews were transcribed and qualitatively analyzed in order to identify the steps in the product development process as well as barriers, advantages and solutions to integrate ecodesign into the different processes. Based on the findings, the results were compared to identify “success factors” for the integration of ecodesign in the product development process such as creating a basic understanding and gaining know-how about ecodesign, translating ecodesign into customer advantages, and taking a systems-perspective as well as working within interdisciplinary teams. Derived from the findings we plan to develop first “simple” measures for the different product development phases (scoping, ideation, definition, development, production- and market preparation) in order to better integrate ecodesign in the product development process.
Presenter: Andrea Gideon, CIRAIG – Polytechnique Montreal
Co-Authors: Manuele Margni, Christophe Abrassart
A key design skill is the ability to reframe the design problem. Life cycle thinking, for example, allows designers to frame a design problem from cradle to grave. This opens many avenues for innovation, by illuminating the environmental hot spots along the value chain and introducing new design tradeoffs. However, this framing limits eco-design to improving the existing product, most likely leading to incremental innovation. A life cycle thinking frame does not fully exploit eco-design’s potential to lead to radical innovation because designers are not equipped to imagine a shift in the identity of the product. Consequently, they are confined to the key characteristics that define the object’s identity, what is known as the dominant design.
We suggest that using life cycle assessment (LCA) during early stages of eco-design could be a factor of design fixation. When using LCA, how can we leverage the cognitive skills necessary to overcome fixation to be creative and enable radical innovation?
To defix, one must balance the fast, automatic mind with the slow and reflexive mind, which work together to make up our cognition. The fast mind is influenced by experience, existing knowledge and the dominant design and most likely leads to ideas that have worked before, whereas the slow, reflexive mind allows for unique and creative ideas to emerge. The skill of creative cognition is to activate a what’s called inhibitory control, achieving this balance by bringing awareness to the rapid activation of fast mind, defixing, and purposefully activating the slow mind.
LCA-based eco-design has the potential to become an innovative design process if LCA results are paired with creative cognition skills to overcome design fixation, and a new context that inspires designers to find a new framing of the problem.
Through an action-research methodology, this research project ties together creativity management, life cycle thinking and design theories and applies them in two cases studies. Each case leads an engineering firm through two design cycles. The first cycle leaves the team with only LCA to inspire their ideas, whereas the second introduces new knowledge and creative cognition skills.
Presenter: Claus Lang-Koetz, Pforzheim University – Institute for Industrial Ecology (INEC)
Co-Authors: Sven Schimpf
The early phases of the innovation process usually comprise of a strategic orientation, idea generation and idea assessment and are characterized by a high degree of uncertainty with respect to market, technology and sustainability aspects.
At such an early stage, innovation ideas can be changed more easily with respect to physical set-up (e.g. material selection, production processes) than in later stages when the planning has progressed. Hence, assessing environmental impacts should take place early, so that ideas for improvement can still be implemented without major hurdles.
Also, assuming a sustainability perspective and choosing a life cycle approach can help to broaden the strategic search field in the innovation process and thus support the creative search for new business ideas.
In general, methods for the early phases of the innovation process are well described in the literature and used by many industrial companies. Examples are trend forecast, integrated market and technology roadmapping and scenario techniques for the strategic phase, or open innovation approaches, creativity methods and knowledge management techniques for idea generation. To evaluate innovation ideas and concepts, assessment methodologies are used which cover market, technology and – to some degree – environmental and sustainability aspects, the latter mostly on a superficial level. The authors have accumulated many practical experiences with these methods over the last years from industry projects and applied research projects.
In this paper, a model is proposed how sustainability aspects and life cycle thinking can be integrated in strategic innovation management and into the early innovation phases and thereby increase their practical relevance from the viewpoint of innovation management as a practical discipline. It is shown how they can influence the innovation strategy (with its overall targets for the company)and examples for a sustainability driven innovation strategy are given. It is shown how appropriate methods, especially roadmapping, scenario techniques and idea assessment can be extended by a holistic sustainability perspective.
These results are derived from theoretical deductions from the existing literature, practical experience of the authors in applied R&D projects and consulting, exploratory interviews with practitioners from industrial companies and expert conversations.
Presenter: Max Sonnen, Ecomatters
Co-Authors: Pau Huguet Ferran
LCA traditionally focuses on the environmental impacts only. Ecomatters, a sustainability consultancy, has been regularly asked for a more integrated approach to assessing environmental impact. One of these more integrated approaches measures environmental, financial and social impacts, and puts these impacts into one dimension that is universally understood by management: the financial dimension. This concept is known as monetization. This takes Life Cycle Management beyond the realm of environmental performance and aims to include a deeper understanding of how businesses impact society at large across an entire value chain. Gaining a better understanding of these aspects – and attaching a monetary value to them – enables companies to identify risks and possible improvements, and ultimately increase business value.
In this session, we will demonstrate how this monetization procedure was implemented in a study focused on the value chain of a book that was developed for one of the clients of Ecomatters: AkzoNobel. In the study, the full value chain of a book was assessed, from paper production to transport to customer. By using this approach to measure the environmental, social and financial impacts across an entire value chain, as well as attaching an economic value to the positive and negative aspects of each, companies are able to identify risks and opportunities. This new insight enables companies to make better business decisions.