Drawing inspiration from my minor and my vision, I was sure about one thing at the beginning of the semester: I want to design for a desirable sustainable future. This would be the highest goal of my project. However, as often with transformation topics, this goal would be too big for me to focus on alone for one semester. Transition takes time, collaboration and a variety of different projects.
Considering that I could not solve the energy and sustainability transition in four months, I decided to set a secondary goal. Something more manageable, but would still contribute to the higher goal of sustainability. Together with my coach, I discussed the topic of Industrial Symbiosis: companies sharing residual material flows to reduce material usage, waste generation and transportation (for more information see Minor Sustainable Innovation). My goal would be to design for the acceleration of these networks.
After doing research and conducting interviews with (potential) stakeholders, I noticed that people did not know about Industrial Symbiosis. More importantly, when they did know about it and wanted to do something about it, there would be a lot of talking without actions. Hence, this became the tertiary and final goal of my project: a tool for innovators to focus on their goal and the process of how to get there with a focus on Industrial Symbiosis. With this goal, I design the iterative discussion model.
Iterative Discussion Model
The iterative discussion model is a game-like meeting tool to help innovators to focus on their progress and vital innovation activities based on strategic niche management (for more information see Minor Sustainable Innovation). The design consists of three parts. The first part is different decks with cards with conversation starter questions for different parts of the innovation process and a different focus. The second part is a participation inviting board to keep track of what activities should be planned an organize and write down the answers given on the questions. Finally, there is a digital tool to make minutes of the written down answers to the questions. Below, the different parts of the design will be explained in more detail and possible design improvements will be indicated.
All the text in the design is in the font Calibri. This is because as it is a meeting tool, people will also put the results in the minutes of the meeting. Considering that Calibri is the standard font of Word, most groups will write their minutes in Calibri. By making the font Calibri in all aspects of the iterative discussion model, the minutes will look consistent.
Conversation Starter Cards
The conversation starter cards are small playing cards with probing questions to let people think about different aspects and activities related to innovation. By doing this, the stakeholders also express and align their expectations and reflect on their actions, which both are also both important innovator activities. There are six different decks of conversation starters with a different focus and different function. The first deck is Opening, it consists of six cards to put down a base for the project, identifying the people involved, the problem and the vision of the project. The second deck is Beginning, which are questions that are valuable to ask at the beginning of a project. Then come Always and Inspiration which are both questions that can be asked through out the whole process, but Always cards are more concrete and Inspiration cards more orienting. Next is a Finalization deck whose function it is to think about how to implement in the market and reflect on the previous steps. Finally, a topic-specific deck about Industrial Symbiosis. This deck is filled with questions that are valuable to think about when setting up industrial symbiosis networks. It would be possible to develop more topic-specific decks for general innovation directions. All cards also have icons referring to where the answer can be written on the overview board.
The overview board consists of four quarter-panels and a middle piece with a timeline. Every part of the board has its own theme. The red part of the board gives an overview of the different means of support that could be used for the project. The cyan part shows the goals and network, so the people involved agree on which direction the project is heading. The blue part is about knowledge, which assumptions are taken and how to generate more knowledge. The green part is the position of the innovation in the system, where it can be placed in relation to the mainstream solution for the problem, different alternatives and societal impacts. Finally, in the middle, there is a timeline where are the activities that were discussed can be planned.
The Support, Knowledge and Goals and Network parts are made of whiteboard. The answers written on it will be done with a permanent marker and can then again be removed with an alcohol-based cleaner. This way the writing, removing and changing takes effort and will become more conscious, while it is still possible to reflect and change your mind.
The Environment and Timeline part are made of cork. That is because the interaction with these parts is different. In Environment, the user puts down and groups the different alternative. As these groups might need reconsideration with new information, it is good to be able to pick up and move the initiatives. By using pins and cork, pieces of paper will stay in the same position, even when the board is stored. In the Timeline, the user can use pins with activity icons on it, to plan the activities discussed.
In the next iteration, there should be a better system to hold the different parts together, for example, magnets or clips.
Minute Making Tool
Finally, after the meeting, it is important that the work is done and decisions made are logged and shared. As the canvas makes it that making minutes traditionally becomes hard, there is also part of the design to help with the minute taking. In this tool, the minute taker can add the information to a digital canvas and immediately plan the activity linked. When someone hovers their mouse over the activity on the timeline, a line will be drawn towards the connected text. For the next version, I would like to add the option to also link the question on the cards to the answers written down.