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Ivo Mersiowsky Tübingen, DE
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Workshop Info

Workshop Title:

Ideality & Sustainability: Guiding product innovation

Date: 26.08.2020

Time: 4:15 – 5:15pm

Workshop Abstract

The concept of ideality originates in systems theory and has been formalized in the Russian Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TIPS). To put it briefly, an ideal system provides a maximum of useful functions with zero resource input. As guidance for product innovation, the Ideal Final Result (IFR) maintains all the product’s benefits, but avoids any environmental damage and any costs of the original problem or previous solutions. As a formula, ideality is described as quality of useful functions per total effort in terms of time, cost, and harm.

To life cycle assessment (LCA) practitioners, this approach is familiar as eco-efficiency, a comprehensive ratio of benefits and impacts. The similarities are even more extensive: Further core principles of sustainability, including sufficiency, can be integrated in a unified theory. Rather than just outlining an abstract approach of systems behaviour, however, this presentation sets out how to merge ideality and sustainability into a coherent guidance of product innovation.
Examples such as the dematerialisation of computer keyboards, maintaining text input functionality to the point where the material product no longer exists and merges with the supersystem of an interactive screen, illustrate the principles. Experiences from interviewing product managers delineate current best practices. Presented in an interactive workshop format, this contribution should bring the innovation and life cycle communities closer together in a unified approach to tackling today’s sustainability challenges.

Draft Agenda:

  • Brief introduction to TIPS and the IFR concept (and which methods/metrics can be used)
  • Break-out groups on each of the four design principles
  • Optional World Café format for rotating participants through groups
  • Plenary discussion to draft a brief design guideline
  • Closing remarks

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