Open Source Business Models for Circular Economy Video Series (5)

VIDEO 5 – Square 2: Enabled Actions & Roles

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.

Enabled Actions & Roles

What others can do with it?

The key thing about opening up assets – as we have done in square one – is that it enables others to do more with your product as just consume it. A larger variety of actions becomes available. A good way to think about this is “Roles”. You offer other actors to take on new roles.

For example: If you just sell furniture you offer others to be “consumers” or “users” and maybe “resellers”. But if you open up the plans of the furniture you add the potential roles of “teachers” that use the design to teach or “designers” that creatively engage with it or “manufacturers” than can make them independently.

Probably with every new asset you open up new roles become possible. Check for all of them what roles they could enable.

If the roles then really engage an ecosystem can emerge where – if the premises are designed right – everyone benefits from everyone. Different actors contribute independently to the progress growth and stability of the ecosystem.

It is the goal of this tool to find out what roles you should enable and support in order to let a healthy ecosystem grow.

You can map out all potential roles here in this square. To gain an overview of the potential ecosystem.

In general roles can be taken by professionals or hobbyists. But of course if people can make a living with it they are more likely to take on the roles and to dedicate a lot of time to it.

In the resources for the video you can find a list with examples for roles. And you can help to grow it. Let me name a view here:

One potential role is

  • Teachers & Students – Last summer I met a person who owns a factory that builds computers. We were discussing Arduino [] and he said that starting this year the apprentices or students in his factory will use Arduino. It makes sense to connect to a big ecosystem of knowledge and people in education. Arduino is the better tool for “Teachers”.

Another role is

  • Independent Developers – Developers or designers can work with your design and add to it. Open Innovation [] is the term here. Maybe they just post ideas or comments somewhere. But maybe they create whole new iterations and publish them. Those you study and learn from. I told you in video number 3 about Arduino and that many people share their Arduino projects online. And that some companies build extra products to combine with the Arduino making it an ever more usueful tool. Those “independent designers” don’t “rip off” the Arduino. They contribute to the ecoystem around it.

Another Role to think about is

  • Contributors – “Independent Developers” are of course also “Contributors”. They contribute to the general growth of the ecosystem. But with an open workflow you can also engage all kinds of direct contributions to your project. A famous example is Wikipedia – one of the worlds largest Open Source projects. The whole encyclopaedia is written by volunteers. This will not be the case for companies of course. In most Open Source projects most work is done by employed workers. Please. Don’t approach Open Source as “Crowdsourcing” – as getting people to work for you for free! That is not the idea! But yes the fact that you can enable third party developers to directly contribute to your core is important. Many companies contribute to the Linux kernel []. IBM did for example. Because they use the software in their hardware products. So they contribute to make Linux useful for them. And by that they make it also useful for others. But Linux and other open source projects allow also other contributions. Like blogposts graphics tests reviews marketing and so on. “Contributors” can be motivated by very different things. We will talk about this in square number 4.

Another role could be

  • Manufacturers – Open building plans enable others to manufacture and also distribute the product. Open Desk [ for example enables a huge network of fablabs all over the world to manufacture their desks locally. Enabling manufacturers can – for example – make sense if you have a service that you want to provide for a physical object. But that you don’t want to produce ship and warrant yourself. But there are more scenarios where you can benefit from enabling manufacturers.

Another role could be

  • Technical Supporters – With open building plans it is easy for others to support the product. They may repair it for example or update it. Your customers will like that. Because it makes them independent. If you hire a web designer to set up a WordPress for you you will not depend on this designer afterwards. He is not the only one that can update the page. Because the source code is open. So you can hire another designer to fix bugs update the page and so on.

Another role could be

  • Recyclers Reusers or Remanufacturers – This is more hypothetical right now. I don’t have a real open source example for this. But of course. If your product is made for recycling reusing and remanufacturing and you are open about it people can do the job. This may result into a better and more useful product for your customers. For one thing: It might be easier to resell for them.

Ok. So much for the examples. They are all very general. When you dive into your specific company or project you will be able to be more concrete and to name specific businesses for example. Which is good.

Map out your partners for decentralized collaboration in an open ecosystem.

Ok. With this in mind lets go to the next video. Video number 6. It is about the 3rd square in the tool and the question: How do YOU benefit from the roles and their actions?


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