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Integrating sustainable development and design-thinking-based product design
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development. Blekinge Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8829-1719
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9110-6497
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
2017 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this research was to integrate sustainable development and design-thinking-based product design in order that the product design then contributes to society’s transition to a sustainable future. This is an important pursuit since product lifecycles are a major cause of society’s current sustainability challenges. To address this, many authors argue for integrating sustainable development into existing design processes rather than developing stand-alone tools and methods.Through action research with a design consultancy who wanted to start working with sustainable product design, we iterated between three stages: understanding needs, designing action, and trying out the action. The first stage comprised document analysis, focus-group style workshops, a survey and interviews. When designing the actions (enhancements to their design-thinking-based process), we drew on literature on sustainable product design, decision-making for sustainability, and organisational learning and change for sustainability. We also drew on our research partners’ practical experience. The enhanced process was tried out and further developed through feedback, student testing and co-development meetings.The result is an enhanced process where project teams (i) use the outcomes from the inspiration phase of the existing process to choose sustainable design strategies that are relevant for their particular project. Once the teams have chosen which strategies to work with, for example, design for remanufacture, we suggest that they (ii) use the strategies to develop ideation foci/questions that help them explore the design space. The third enhancement is for teams to (iii) compare concepts with respect to sustainability as part of their concept comparison and evaluation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2017.
Keywords [en]
Ecodesign; sustainable product design; design thinking; product development
National Category
Design Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-15656OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-15656DiVA, id: diva2:1165845
Conference
International Symposium on Environmentally Conscious Design and Inverse Manufacturing (EcoDesign), Tainan, Taiwan
Funder
Knowledge Foundation
Note

Best paper award at the conference

Available from: 2017-12-13 Created: 2017-12-13 Last updated: 2018-09-20Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The individual human side of supporting sustainable design beginners
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The individual human side of supporting sustainable design beginners
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Starting to include sustainability considerations in a design project is a transition requiring a change in how things are done, that is, a change in behaviour. Furthermore, this transition takes place in the midst of the usual pressures of product design. Prior research on sustainable design has mostly explored the so-called technical side – identifying what tasks should be performed, such as specifics of including sustainability criteria when analysing product concepts. However, this has not been enough. These tasks are not being performed to the extent that they could, or that is needed. Recent studies have advocated the consideration of the human nature of the people who are to execute these ‘technical’ tasks. In other words, there is a need to work with the socio-psychological factors in order to help sustainable design beginners to adopt new mindsets and practice (their usual way of doing design).

My aim was therefore to investigate how to support individual product design team members with the human aspects of transitioning to executing sustainable design. In particular, I focused on supporting good individual decision-making and individual behaviour change. This aim was addressed through multiple research projects with four partner companies working with the early phases of product design. Given a focus to change practice, I followed an action research approach with a particular emphasis on theory building. This action research approach comprised two phases: understanding the challenge and context, and then iteratively developing solutions through a theorise–design-act-observe-reflect cycle.

Through the research projects, my colleagues and I found that there are challenges related to behaviour change and decision-making that are hindering execution of sustainable design. In order to help organisations to overcome or avoid these challenges, we found that it may be beneficial for those developing sustainable design tools and methods to (i) use techniques to mitigate for cognitive illusions, (ii) provide individuals with the opportunity to implement sustainable design while helping those individuals to increase their motivation and capability to execute sustainable design, and (iii) communicate with these individuals in such a way as to avoid triggering psychological barriers (self-defence mechanisms). I combined these points into two models.

Together with the partner organisations, we applied the two models to design some actions that we then tested. The actions included integrating behaviour change and decision-making considerations into sustainable design tools as well as stand-alone interventions in the culture.

Given the findings of these studies, I urge developers of sustainable design tools to see implementation of their tool as a learning journey. The beginning of the journey should comprise small steps supported by handrails, which then increase in size and decrease in support as the journey continues. Especially in the beginning, tool developers will also need to help travellers to avoid the decision-making errors that occur due to being in unfamiliar territory.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2018
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 9
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-16972 (URN)978-91-7295-357-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-10-19, J1650, Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 371 79 Karlskrona, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2018-09-10 Created: 2018-09-06 Last updated: 2018-09-28Bibliographically approved

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Gould - Sust design thinking(378 kB)151 downloads
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Gould, Rachael KBratt, CeciliaLagun Mesquita, PatriciaBroman, Göran
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