Define Your Challenge

Articulate and frame what circularity challenge you want to solve and the impact you hope to have, and bring a team together to align on your goals and approach.

Circular design is inherently systemic, so it is particularly valuable to have a clear definition of what you are trying to solve and how you plan to go about it. This will likely require an interdisciplinary approach with a range of support.



Gather with the team that will be working on your design challenge.  


Start by clarifying your goal what are you looking to accomplish? (Make sure you are focused enough that the challenge feels manageable, but broad enough that there are opportunities to discover new or unique solutions.)


As a group, continue with the following questions, and capture the answers as you go:

  • What impact do you hope to have? (set a small and achievable goal)
  • What does success look like? How will you know when you get there?
  • What’s working for you? How can you amplify these forces?
  • What’s working against you? How do you plan to address these challenges?

One by one, have each person in your group share their thoughts for each of these questions. On the last question, take a minute to work on the Barriers Breakdown Worksheet to make sure you are set up for success.


Now, shift to action. What small steps will you take to make this happen? 

  • What questions do your team need to explore to move forward?
  • Who are the key players and collaborators you need to make this happen?
  • What is the early narrative you want to create around your intentions that you can share with others?
  • What are the next steps?

Capture and share so everyone in your group can use this as a basis for telling the story to others.


This activity will help you articulate and frame what circularity challenge you are looking to solve and the impact you hope to have. In addition, it's an opportunity to bring a team together to align on your goal(s) and the approach you might take.




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The Circular Design Guide is a collaboration between the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and IDEO. To give your feedback, email us directly or join our linkedin group.

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