The Circular change

We face a real transition in the economic system: from the actual ‘linear’ to a ‘circular’ system.  That brings some different needs for enhancing the change. We could wait and see, but we know from the transitiontheory that you can speed up the process, through transitionmanagement.  The change has to take place on all kinds of levels: as well as scale levels, as organisational levels. The real question is: “what do we need for speeding up this transition?” A far too complex question for one clear answer. We will need new businessmodels, new concepts of ownership, new models of value creation, new perspectives on clients and the provided performances. OPAi cooperates with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. They did excellent work on idea-development, educational materials and insights and real fundamental analysis of the possibilities and future impact of the circular economy on the European economy. Their report ‘Towards a Circular Economy’ can be found here:

Another good source of information on strategies for the Circular Economy is the report made by the Aldersgate Group, find it here: It is called ‘Resilience in the Round, seizing the growth opportunities for the Circular Economy’. It was presented at the Base conference 2012 in London on the 21th june 2012. Our managing partner, Douwe Jan Joustra, presented there, on behalf of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, his vision on the basics and governance of the Circular Economy. His slides can be found here: 

Ofcourse we learn on a daily basis of the activities in the market of TurnToo, the circular businessmodel that OPAi-partner Thomas Rau, developed and is executing right now. For some backgrounds on this company, see

This brings us to some thoughts on the circular economy that we like to share. Since we teamed up with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Aldersgate Group, some of their insights are used also. Our principles are:

Rethink the quality of nature: use and re-use of nutrients and materials;

Rethink the financials of use of resources, all materials are used temporarely;

Rethink our energy need and supply: use the Solar-incoming energy, wind and geothermal;

Value the quality of diversity as basic element for resilience;

Redesign our economic perspective (i.g. ownership) for a performance based perspective (i.g. useability: the ‘new ownership’)

Redesign activities and products (design for disassembly)

Experiment, explore, and accept insecure results.

This brings 8 new ways of working around, that we are facing these days:

1. Design new (performancebased) businesscases that work on the essentials of the Circular Economy. It needs new perspectives but also new skills for professionals at all levels in organisations. Rethinking the relation between producer and consumer (as well private as businesses) is a creative process that needs some thinking in a counterintuitive way, or out-of-the-box. OPAi has the instruments and methodology to do this with interested clients. Also we provide, together with Greenbizz Startup, a 4 day workshop on the principles of the Circular Economy, Businessmodels and creation of Service design in relation to resource management, client relations and performancebased solutions.

2. Learning by Nature is a state of mind and a smart way to find designprinciples for (new) business and products. We see that the knowledge of fundamental principles of nature are not used on a daily basis, maybe some biomimicry (learn functional from biology). There is more: ecology on relationship and patterns, Thermodynamics on energy and ‘matter’. For a systemic way of looking at organisations, products, logistics and societal arrangements (for instance: cities);

3. Financing and rethinking values new businesscases bring new financial arrangements. For the Circular Economy the service-agreements between producer and user are key. There is more to that. New financial arrangements are also needed for the performancebased use of resources. We envision startegies that make resources a common good. So a “fee for use” can be introduced. This brings interesting options for financing.

4. Systems change and provide us with completely new perspectives on housing and offices in the building sector, as well for renovation as for new buildings. Also on office-use and comfortable living we see fundamental changes. New businesses like Car2Go, the Coffee Company, Seats2Meet, Washing and more can be seen as the frontrunners that acknowledge that new ways of business are based on providing service and performance. How to change your business?

5. Educate, Educate, Educate is an important aspect of our ork now a days. We have a close cooperation with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and we do lectures for them: business schools, webinars, conferences and in the near future a broad program for all formal and non-formal education. We see the need of professionals who rethink and redesign their way of working, individually and on company-level.

6. Scale changes because of new energy in society. However people like to have a lot of interdependencies, they also like to be independent. This independency is mostly felt in the field of energy. The creative civilian doesn’t need the oil-, gaz- and electricity companies anymore: by creating on local level their own Energy Company or Energy Service Company, they create a feeling and fundament of independency. Also projects based on cooperative car-ownership and other collaborative sharing bring new economics to live. We support this change, see businesscases and create the basics for initiators.

7. Transitionmanagement is our corebusiness. We identify the ‘next step’ or even better the ‘next leap forward’. Planning the interventions that are needed to speed up the process of change is what we do best.

8. Governance needs a redesign also. We envioned that this will be a major change, from a directive basis to a condition based approach. That means that governments as well national and local, need a new vision on their approach to their governance strategies.

We see a great transition coming. It will change the economic ‘game’ to an extend that is yet beyond belief. Feedbackloops change, responsabilities change and speaking in terms of sustainable development, this could be the key to a major shift in the relation between human, ecology and economy. Next time we will focus on this.