We all want to create a better future for our children. Often it is not a lack of willingness for companies to have a positive impact. Evides Waterbedrijf delivers safe, clean and tasty drinking water to 2.5 million customers on a daily basis and operates closely connected to the environment. To make neighborhoods more water-sensitive for the future, Evides joined forces with social housing cooperation Havensteder, the city of Rotterdam and architects of Gebouwd Water to tackle this shared challenge in a workshop. It showed us that although everybody has a common goal, finding a common solution is not that easy. Our key lesson:
Collaboration asks for an entrepreneurial spirit.
Workshop at the inspiring location: Hotspot Hutspot. Innoboost is posting a series of blogs in anticipation of our Inspiring Circular Breakfast event on 19 January 2017, where eight companies share their circular learnings.
Keep an open mind towards your company's role
Sustainable technology and innovative business models force certain companies to think about their role in the future and to reevaluate how they use their assets. To give an example companies such as Airbnb, Uber and Marktplaats are forcing tax authorities to rethink their tax-system. For Evides it is important to rethink their role as a sustainable and innovative water company. What if people start to provide their own water, through decentral water filters or solar panel powered desalination? Hemelswater already found a way to turn rainwater into beer.
Changing entire systems, means we have to break conventions. If stakeholders come together and are confronted with their new role, there could be a threshold to talk about this freely because of a fear to commit to something we have not thought through yet. It can therefore be sensible for stakeholders to have an internal discussion beforehand to explore the possibilities on their future role. When you do this: keep in mind that business survival requires us to be adaptive to a changing context. A key lesson we can learn from Nokia who experienced that a non-adaptive attitude can lead to demise.
You’ll never know until you experiment
Rethinking your role comes with many uncertainties. If we really want to get circular economy off the ground we have to take an entrepreneurial spirit and ask ourselves and our partners: What risks do you see? On what assumptions are they based? And how can we test these assumptions to determine our next step together?
This does not mean we have to start a large-scale pilot, but we can start a small-scale experiment to break down the most important assumption to take the next step. To give an example: In one idea captured rainwater is used as free grey-water for all kinds of business activities from gardening, to cleaning windows, to a carwash. But does offering rainwater for grey-water activities attract businesses to realize a positive social impact for the neighborhood?
Evides could arrange a focus group with entrepreneurs to discover which requirements businesses demand of water. By launching ads that offer ‘Free water for your business activities’, it can be tested how often people click on it, even if it does not exist yet. If there is proof that the target group is interested, it will also be easier to convince other stakeholders.
In short, dare to break conventions and start gathering proof
Interested in Evides’ learnings and the learnings of seven others? Join our Inspiring Circular Breakfast on 19 January 2017.