From ambition to action: an adaptive strategy for circular design

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Ellen MacArthur Foundation

To achieve their circular economy ambitions, organisations need to leverage design systemically. The following adaptive strategy exemplifies how leveraging design enables them to carry out this transformation.

Drawing on the experience of design leaders within the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s network and the Foundation’s expertise in the field, we have identified six focus areas, referred to as design leverage points that, taken together, create an organisational environment for circular transformation.

Design leaders who have contributed to the creation of this adaptive strategy work in a wide range of sectors and organisations including multinational corporations, agencies and consultancies, not-for-profit organisations, and circular native start-ups.

This work provides a set of complementary and interlinked strategies for those leading circular design efforts including, but not limited to, Chief Design Officers, Heads of Design and Innovation, and Strategy, Systems or Business Designers with multidisciplinary teams.

The six interrelated design leverage points are not all-encompassing, but instead provide multiple entry points to create the organisational conditions needed for a circular economy transformation. Each point is supported by case studies to illustrate the different system levels at which they can be applied.

As more organisations embark on a circular economy transition, diverse pathways are coming to light on how to move from ambition to action. The knowledge shared here helps deepen the understanding of the topic and what it takes for organisations to leverage design for circular and regenerative outcomes. This adaptive strategy acts as a starting point, and will need to be contextualised and customised for each scenario.

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