Circularity First, Circularity Native
Circular Economy

Circularity First, Circularity Native

Understory Team
Understory Team

Mobile first, mobile native, cloud first, and cloud native. These words have become part of our every-day vocabulary as organizations adopted these capabilities as part of their digital transformation. Now, the new imperative for every organization is circularity first or circularity native.

Circularity first or circularity native is about building products and providing solutions that embrace and implement circularity design, preservation, and regeneration principles. We are convinced that organizations that are circularity first or circularity native will win in the long term.

At the time of this writing, SpaceX, the commercial space company, is sending two astronauts on its Dragon spacecraft to space. The Dragon spacecraft is important for a number of reasons. It is the first American-made spacecraft in nearly a decade to take American astronauts to the International Space Station. What is also astounding about the Dragon spacecraft is that it is designed as a set of reusable hardware and software.

Indeed, the Dragon spacecraft has been launched on 22 occasions with 21 visits to the International Space Station. Out of that, 9 have been reflown missions, meaning that a significant amount of cargo or of the actual spacecraft was returned to Earth, captured, preserved, and reused again. SpaceX set out to design and engineer a spacecraft that has most of its cargo preserved and then reused or in this case, serves as the hardware foundation for the next space mission. This is circularity first or circularity native at its best and at a grand scale.

SpaceX’s circularity first design and approach drove its implementation and its business model — — most prominently reducing capital expenditure for each mission by having the ability to reuse parts of the cargo for future missions. In fact, NASA estimates that SpaceX powered space missions can save taxpayers billions of dollars.

In some ways, it is easier for organizations to be mobile first or mobile native because most of the efforts to get to mobile first or mobile native evolves around new technology adoption. Mobile first or mobile native is about helping an organization deliver a product in a different form factor to meet customer’s changing consumption behavior. Mindset shift and process reengineering are less important for corporate mobile adoption as long as the market is ready for products, services, or information delivered on mobile phones. Once the organization decides to build products that can be delivered seamlessly via mobile, the design and development process can quickly leverage existing mobile design and development best practices and tools.

Contrast mobile with cloud. Becoming cloud-first is much more challenging for most organizations. It requires significant organizational mindset shift and buy-in, process reengineering, and business model change. In fact, becoming cloud first is about significantly transforming existing legacy technology infrastructure to be more agile and affordable, while delivering the same or better services to clients no matter where they are. Becoming or being circularity first is akin to becoming or being cloud first.

Circularity first means changing current thinking about how to design a product with components that can be preserved, upcycled, reused, and ultimately regenerate value.

Circularity first means changing how current products might be produced or assembled differently to enable circularity downstream.

Circularity first means helping organizations establish a new type of infrastructure enabled by technology and innovation to become resilient in its business model and create new value for clients.

It is not easy, but it can be done.

We see circularity first or circularity native solutions in SpaceX and many of the companies we highlighted in Understory Insights white papers.

We fully expect that starting in 2020, circularity first or circularity native is not a term we coined but a term describing an acceleration of mindset shift followed by actions in many organizations. Stay tuned.

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