Open Source Business Models for Circular Economy Video Series (4)

VIDEO 4 – Open Up

From a Video Series about ‘Open Source Business Models for Circular Economy’ – produced for the Open Source Circular Economy Days (OSCEdays). See our original post on Open Source Circular Economy Days for the complete set of resources: tool downloads, explanations, videos, script, links.


Ok. In the first videos of the series I shared some core ideas I wanted you to have in mind before I go to the little tool I created.

The name of the tool is “Platform Design Flowchart”.

It is made to make people ask the right or some questions about their idea product project or company in order to help them to see it as an Open Source project or business.

In the resources for this video you’ll find a graphic tool – a table.

The tool is in an early state. It is made to grow over time. I invite you to add to it in the resources. Especially to the list of examples.

Ok. I hope you have it open by now.

You see a table with six squares. Each square is about one basic question.

When you answer the questions when you fill in information you’ll paint a picture of an Open Source project or business.

This methodology is inspired by the famous Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.

And the idea to develop it further to a tool that helps to invent open platforms I got from Simone Cicero – who has also developed a tool to design platforms that you can study on his website. The link is in the resources for the video.

If you are in general familiar with the “Business Model Canvas” this will help a bit with the tool I am going to present you now.

Each of the following videos explains one of the squares. And presents a list with examples.

I’ll start now with square one. Called:



What key assets to open up or share?

So the question is: From all the things you own or use to run your company or project what to put out in the open?

As said in video number 2 – you don’t need to make everything open. Just pick what makes sense. The tool is made to help you discover what makes sense. You can map the potential effects of opening up for every single asset.

There are a many different ways of sharing or being open. I’ll name a view examples.

Example one:

  • The Building Plans or Design Files – In Software Open Source projects share source code. Source code is basically a building plan for software. On the website GitHub for example are hosted thousands of projects to study and contribute. When we talk about hardware possible design files are CAD files or other technical drawings. But basically all documents needed to understand and manufacture the hardware (see BEST PRACTICES). Sewing patterns for shoes are another example.

Another thing to open is the:

  • Bill Of Materials – A set of design files should always include a bill of materials. A bill of materials is a complete list with all necessary parts to build something. Including the sources for the parts: Where can you buy them? This is important. Because it will make it much easier for others to really build the design. The Open Source Hardware project Open Energy Monitor for example provides a Bill Of Materials for every setup of the emon.

another thing to open up could be:

  • The Entire Work Process – In Open Source Software Projects for example when hosted on GitHub you can see next to the actual source code a lot more communication around the project. People publicly file issues – like feature requests or bug reports. These issues are discussed then in the open. And often important decisions about the future of the project are made in these public threads.  GITHUB EXAMPLE. An example for a transparent workflow that is not software is the workflow of the OSCEdays Association and Board Of Stewardship. They have a fully transparent workflow. All the communication with very little exceptions – like personal data – is out in the open. You can follow it in the OSCEdays Forum | In the OSCEdays Blog you can find a post about it with more explanations .

Another thing to open up could be:

  • Recipes – Recipes are of course also a sub group of “design files”. You can share for example the recipe for a material. Good examples for shared recipes you can find everywhere in the web. There are thousands of cooking websites. Yes. That can count as Open Source. And it does especially when the recipes are shared under open licenses like on Open Source for example.

Another thing to open up could be the:

  • Plans of your Workshop of Factory – You can share information about your factory or the processes you use to build your products. Spark Fun [ ] for example shared design files for their new factory. And in many Fablabs you can find an open source 3d printer. For example a RepRap. And on the website of the Fablab the information that they have one.

Another thing to open up might be:

  • Your Workshop To UseFablabs  and Makerspaces are popping up all around the globe. They are usually spaces where you can find machines to build “almost everything”. 3d printers or laser cutters for example. And you’ll probably find someone there who will be happy to explain to you how the machines work. And give you access to it. For a fee. That might be their business. It is an open factory or workshop.

Ok. So much for Square One.

When you think about all assets you have in your project or company you can probably think of more things to open up. You can be more specific. Which will help with the following squares.

The next video is video is number 5. And it is about square 2 of the “Platform Design Flowchart.”

And it is called “Enabled Actions And Roles.”


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