Design of a Sharing Platform for Objects in Gothenburg

Challenge Lab. Sustainable Mobility and Transport Solutions

Master's Thesis, 2014

141 Pages, Grade: 1


Table of contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Aim and Objectives of the Challenge Lab
1.3 Challenge Lab Structure
1.4 Aim of the Thesis at hand
1.5 Delimitations
1.6 Outline of Thesis

2 The Challenge Lab Process
2.1 Outside-In Perspective
2.1.1 Outside-in methods
2.1.2 Process and utilised Tools
2.1.3 Findings from using the Tools
2.1.4 Reflections on the Outside-In Methods
2.2 Inside-Out Perspective
2.2.1 Inside-Out -Methods
2.2.2 Application of the Methods in the Challenge Lab Process
2.2.3 Reflections on the Inside-Out Methods
2.3 Transition of Socio-Technical Systems – Multilevel Perspective
2.3.1 Theory and Process
2.3.2 Outcome and Reflection
2.4 Design-thinking
2.4.1 Theory and Process
2.4.2 Outcome and Reflection
2.5 Development of the Research Project

3 Project
3.1 Project Aim
3.2 Methods
3.2.1 Part A – Interviews
3.2.2 Part B – Workshops
3.2.3 Part B – Survey
3.2.4 Part B – Gothenburg Startup Hack
3.2.5 Part B – Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Course
3.3 Theory and Practical Applications of a Sharing Economy
3.3.1 Collaborative Consumption Systems
3.3.2 Factors and Driving Forces contributing to the Sharing Economy
3.3.3 Customer Benefits of a Sharing Economy
3.3.4 Environmental Benefits of a Sharing Economy
3.3.5 Overview of existing Sharing Projects of Objects
3.3.6 Currently applied Business Models for Sharing Economy Practices
3.4 Results
3.4.1 Customer Feedback – Survey and Workshops
3.4.2 Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Course
3.4.3 Hardware Solution – Gothenburg Startup Hack
3.4.4 Applicable Business Model

4 Discussion
4.1 The Challenge Lab – Phase I
4.1.1 The Aims of the Challenge Lab
4.1.2 The Challenge Lab Approach
4.1.3 The Challenge Lab Tools and Frameworks
4.2 The Sharing Economy Project – Phase II
4.2.1 Discussion of the Project Methods
4.2.2 Discussion of the proposed Sharing Platform

5 Conclusion
Conclusion of the Challenge Lab Process – Phase I
Conclusion of the Project Process – Phase II

6 Recommendation
6.1 The Challenge Lab
6.2 Future Research Questions

Appendix A Detailed Funnel Results

Appendix B Sustainability Compass

Appendix C Interviewed Stakeholders

Appendix D Survey Questions

Appendix E Survey Results

Appendix F Ideation Workshop Results

Appendix G Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Course


Table of figures

Figure 1: Challenge Lab in the knowledge triangle

Figure 2: The Challenge Lab Process

Figure 3: Challenge Lab tool box

Figure 4: The Steps in Backcasting

Figure 5: The resource and demand funnel

Figure 6: Sustainability compass

Figure 7: Resource price trend

Figure 8: Increase of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere

Figure 9: Planetary boundaries

Figure 10: Land use in year 2007

Figure 11: World population projection

Figure 12: World population growth rate 1950-2050

Figure 13: Global overall debt in % of GDP

Figure 14: Annual growth of world GDP (thick, green line, trillions of USD) and annual change of estimated CO2 emissions (thin, black line, millions of kt)

Figure 15: Energy use per capita (kg of oil equivalent)

Figure 16: Sustainability compass results

Figure 17: The Challenge Lab Wall

Figure 18: Different conversation types

Figure 19: Rules for a dialogue

Figure 20: Reinforcing circle towards a more resilient organisation

Figure 21: Misunderstand and its impact on the resilience of a group

Figure 22: Dividing time into two phases - circle and triangle time

Figure 23: Overview of value segmentation

Figure 24: Author’s Meaning Map

Figure 25: Overview of the multiple-levels perspective

Figure 26: A dynamic view of technology transitions and break-out of niche applications

Figure 27: Multilevel Design Methodology

Figure 28: Workshop groups during one of the sessions

Figure 29: Ideation by utilising the brainwalk technique

Figure 30: First rapid prototyping session

Figure 31: Second rapid prototyping session

Figure 32: Gothenburg Startup Hack Logo

Figure 33: Gothenburg Startup Hack team

Figure 34: Gothenburg Startup Hack location

Figure 35: Life-Cycle Assessment of an electric drill

Figure 36: Products by energy requirement in the use phase against the materials and process (production) phase (% of lifecycle energy)

Figure 37: Inventory of the Gothenburg Tool Library

Figure 38: Verktygsbibblan homepage

Figure 39: Overview of objects people are willing to share

Figure 40: Willingness to share objects with different social groups

Figure 41: Main barriers for a sharing platform

Figure 42: Survey result ranking of sharing mode

Figure 43: Frequency of usage and attractiveness for sharing of different transport modes

Figure 44: Prototype of the smart box

Figure 45: Design of a box station

Figure 46:Mock-up of the box station web service

Figure 47: Web service for sharing

Figure 48: Confirmation and error screen for web service

Figure 49: Box number cone: Concept of box number

Figure 50: Box station business model canvas

Table of tables

Table 1: Team Overview

Table 2: Human disturbances of natural flows and ecosystems

Table 3: Gothenburg Startup Hack team overview

Table 4: Schedule of Gothenburg Startup Hack


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1 Introduction

Chapter 1 is intended to give the reader an understanding of the idea behind the Challenge Lab, and how it can be used to improve the innovation processes at the university and the collaboration between academia, industry and government.

1.1 Background

In 2009, Chalmers launched its Areas of Advance, where research, education and innovation activities at the university that are linked to a certain topic area come together in order to make them more visible on the campus and to the large community. In total there are seven Areas of Advance, namely Energy, Transport, Built Environment, Life Sciences, Nano Technology, Materials, Information and Communication Technology, and Production. As a result, collaboration within Chalmers and other universities and industries became more efficient (Holmberg 2014).

But this was only one activity in Chalmers’ journey towards sustainability and becoming a truly sustainable university. During the past Chalmers has been active in bringing together stakeholders from different backgrounds, such as the city of Gothenburg, the University of Gothenburg, the region Västra Götaland and the West Sweden Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Holmberg 2014).

In 2011, five knowledge clusters (Urban Future, Marine and Maritime, Bio based products, Sustainable Mobility, and Life sciences) were identified and launched by academia and the private and public sector in the region of West-Sweden. Currently, these clusters are being shaped by the academia together with the public and private sector in order to assure that trust is built and engagement created, leading to a real change towards sustainable solutions and an overall sustainable society (Holmberg 2014).

Connected to the build-up of these clusters was the introduction of the Challenge Lab. Here students become change agents by challenging the current system by developing disruptive ideas and research questions. Students were chosen because of their unique ability to act as the glue in the triangle of academia, the private and the public sector (see Figure 1). They do not pose a threat to the different stakeholders and can tackle problems without a certain agenda behind them (Holmberg 2014).

Figure 1: Challenge Lab in the knowledge triangle

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1.2 ­Aim and Objectives of the Challenge Lab

The aim of the Challenge Lab is to add glue to the collaboration and co-creation in the triple helix of academia, public and private industry. The triple helix thesis states that innovation and economic development potential lies in a more prominent role of universities and a better collaboration between university, industry and government. This model should generate new institutional and social formats to produce, transfer and apply knowledge (Stanford University n.d.).

In particular the Challenge Lab aims to:

- Improve the collaboration between academia, private and public industry.
- Provide a meeting place for all stakeholders in the regional knowledge clusters.
- Utilise the unthreatening and challenging characteristics of students as change agents to build trust amongst the different stakeholders in the clusters.
- Provide the students with unique skill sets in order to improve their ability to work across disciplines.

The long-term objective of the Challenge Lab is to ultimately alter the way universities, collaborating partners and funding agencies cooperate. It provides a better platform for directing society towards a sustainable future than currently possible collaborations.

The Challenge Lab has the advantage that it focuses on students with a broad knowledge base rather than on researchers, resulting in solutions with more diverse intentions than the very narrow focused findings of traditional research. Due to this it also gives focus more on the real challenges regarding sustainability than on technical or market driven solutions. In the long-run collaborations between different Challenge Labs could widen the area of research even further than the current specialisation on sustainable transport solutions.

1.3 Challenge Lab Structure

After years of planning, Chalmers’ first Challenge Lab started in spring 2014. It consists of 12 graduate students from six different master programmes and seven countries (Table 1).

Table 1: Team Overview

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The team worked together from January until June 2014, of which about half was spent together in a team of all participants working on the so-called Phase I and in the second half, the so-called Phase II, the student team was split into seven smaller thesis teams, consisting of either one or two members. This split was due to the regulations at Chalmers of having a maximum of two students per master thesis.

These two phases had very specific characteristics that will be explained in more detail in chapter 2

1.4 Aim of the Thesis at hand

This thesis in particular deals with the problem of increasing resource consumption in our society and how to overcome this current trend in order to lead to a sustainable society. At the moment there are many objects only used a fraction of their lifetime and idling most of it.

The aim of the thesis is to design a system for sharing of objects that is more accessible and convenient than current systems in Gothenburg.

The research questions answered in detail in this thesis are:

- What are the barriers and drivers for radically increased levels of sharing?
- What projects are currently operated or planned in Gothenburg and other parts of Sweden?
- What is the opinion of people in Gothenburg, in particular students, about sharing economy and its practices?
- How can technology be used in order to improve the accessibility and convenience of sharing economy principles, in particular regarding sharing of objects?

1.5 Delimitations

This thesis will mainly assess the needs of a certain target group, namely students and employees located close to the university campuses in Gothenburg. This is done due to the fact that the target group is easiest reachable and the time is too limited to extend the scope of the thesis.

The research does not include solutions that require a change of object ownership, like it is done on platforms such as Ebay or Blocket as well as events like clothe swap days.

Furthermore it only assess the impact on the urban transportation of passengers and will not examine probable consequences on the transport of goods, both urban and global. This could however be the assignment to a future thesis in the Challenge Lab.

1.6 Outline of Thesis

This thesis is divided into six different segments. Chapter 1 gives an introduction to the idea behind the Challenge Lab and how the work was structured. Chapter 2 sums up the process during the Challenge Lab work by dividing it into an outside-in and an inside-out perspective. It also explains in more detail how the actual research question was raised during this process. Chapter 3 presents Phase II, including the theory and methodology used in the distinct research aim as well as the actual results from this phase. Chapter 4 discusses the significance of Phase I, the used tools and the experience in the Challenge Lab as well as the outcome of Phase II. Chapter 5 draws the major conclusions from the findings in both phases. Chapter 6 presents an outlook for future and how the findings from this thesis could be utilised by future Challenge Lab teams.

For readers specifically interested in the solutions, section 3.4 and onwards are suggested to be read.

2 The Challenge Lab Process

This chapter intends to give the reader a better understanding for how the Challenge Lab process, shown in Figure 2, worked as well as what tools and methods were utilised.

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Figure 2: The Challenge Lab Process

In the beginning, called Phase I, the students were given some preparation in order to enable them to be change agents and to question the current system. The Challenge Lab team had a two month long introduction to tools, facts and information that was seen to be helpful and necessary for them to find and develop distinct research question.

During Phase I all 12 Challenge Lab students formed one common team and were working on the same tasks. This is also the reason why Phase I is rather similar for all thesis groups. In this phase the Challenge Lab team was confronted with an inside-out and an outside-in approach.

The inside-out approach should provide the participants with the methods and tools needed to help them understand their own core values, strengths and visions as wells as to give them the capacity to deal with different stakeholders via a variety of dialogue tools. Although most of the inside-out approach was done in a more alternative way such as workshops, some of it was also presented in the traditional approach, such as sessions about leadership in work related to sustainability.

But the majority of the inside-out phase was done via more alternative methods, including workshops and dialogue sessions. Some of them were meant to provide the Challenge Lab team with a positive and open working environment, while others should improve the team’s ability to foster dialogue with stakeholders. In order to provide a good working environment, sessions about personal values were held. In them openness was embraced and reflections about individual’s core drivers were examined. This was one of the main enablers of having an innovative approach towards the present issues related to sustainability.

The outside-in approach was more fact driven and was meant to show the team the hot spots where they can intervene within the system. This was done via utilisation of methods and tools such as backcasting and the funnel to give students the necessary knowledge, tools and methods to transform them into change agents for a sustainable society.

Both approaches were meant to prepare the students for understanding sustainable transitions of socio-technical systems, improve their skills for interacting with different stakeholders and use the knowledge gained for implementing design thinking in their work.

During Phase I the Challenge Lab was also visited by stakeholders with very diverse backgrounds and inputs for the student team. Some of the information was shared by traditional presentation of lecturers, coming from academia, industry and the public sector. These sessions were meant to provide the student team with an understanding of the local and regional system.

Overall Phase I was a mixture of traditional education and new ways to embrace innovative thinking and an open environment that fosters good team work. The mentioned aspects distinguish the work on the thesis at hand from other, more conventional graduate research at Chalmers.

At the end of Phase I the students drafted the topic/question that they developed further in Phase II. In this second phase the students divided into thesis teams of one or two to further investigate a distinct topic/question by interacting with relevant stakeholders. In total there are seven different thesis projects as five thesis teams consisted of two student and two participants worked on their own.

This structure is one of the characteristics of the Challenge Lab thesis that distinguishes it from the usual approach of a master thesis at Chalmers University of Technology. Via interaction with stakeholders, but also by reflecting upon the topics that were discussed during Phase I, the thesis students could develop their own research question rather than being presented with a question or topic from the beginning.

The Challenge Lab approach resulted in openness towards the problem description as well as more innovative and unique solution proposals. By avoiding a too narrow limitation of every participant in the beginning, it was possible to expand the knowledge of each participant in areas previously unfamiliar, as they had to be open to every input they got in order to be able to see the whole picture.

Some participants also developed a question that had a different scope than it would have had if the focus was given already at the start. One example is the thesis at hand. Without having such an open scope the author of this thesis would have written with a very high certainty about a more energy focused topic. This open approach enables the innovative outcome of the projects and adds highly valuable skills to each team member.

Overall a wide variety of tools were used in Phase I, as can be seen in Figure 3. They differed both in terms of scope towards region (Global, EU, nation, region, city and the Challenge Lab itself) as well is in regards to time (past, present, transition and future). As can be seen in the figure backcasting was the biggest framework in this process, utilising the sustainability principles and the system innovation & multi-level perspective as the main tools. In regards to past trends a tool called “The funnel” was applied and for present trends a vast amount of different methods such as design-thinking and tools like the sustainability compass, dialogue tools as well as value and leadership workshops were used. These will be explained in more detail in the following sections.

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Figure 3: Challenge Lab tool box

2.1 Outside-In Perspective

This section is meant give the reader an understanding of how backcasting can be utilised in order to understand the necessary actions society has to take as well as an overview of the current global trends. The main idea of backcasting is to envision a sustainable future framework and come up with different ways of achieving this future from the present situation.

Furthermore it will showcase principles vital for sustainable development in order to get a systematic understanding of the future sustainability requirements and a tool used by the Challenge Lab team that supported mapping the group’s sustainability goals.

2.1.1 Outside-in methods

This section will explain the methods used in the Challenge Lab. During the introduction phase backcasting was used as a method to ensure that the team comes up with questions that lead to sustainable transition solutions and not only incremental improvements of the current situation. The method can be seen to have provided a framework for the entire process in Phase I and II as it provided the central theme for the work in the Challenge Lab. It was used in several stages, such as describing the current trends and developing each team’s research question.

It is a very useful method when it comes to problems that are not only complex, but also connected to the current trends as it is the case for sustainable transportation (Holmberg & Robèrt 2000). In such scenarios it is important to not extrapolate the present development into the future, but instead envision a desired future that meets the criteria for a sustainable society.

Backcasting is in particular useful for the case that:

- the problem at hand is complex
- there is the need for a change
- current trends are part of the problem at hand
- the problem is connected to externalities
- the time horizon is long enough to leave room for choices (Dreborg 1996).

As can be seen in Figure 4, the method includes four steps.

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Figure 4: The Steps in Backcasting

Source: (Holmberg 1998)

A – Defining a framework for sustainability

As the future society should be sustainable, it has to meet the four principles for sustainability. In general this means that nature’s function and diversity must not be systematically:

- subject to increasing concentrations of substances extracted from the earth’s crust
- subject to increasing concentrations of harmful substances produced by society
- impoverished by over-harvesting or other forms of ecosystem manipulation
- resources must be used fairly and in the most efficient way so that the basic human needs can be met on a global scale (Holmberg et al. 1996)

In the following sections these four principles will be described in more detail.

Substances extracted from the lithosphere must not systematically accumulate in the ecosphere The first principle means that the total amount of elements extracted from the lithosphere, both by human and natural processes, should not exceed the sedimentation rate and the rate of the final disposal in the lithosphere. If that were the case, these elements would systematically increase in the ecosphere, causing environmental problems such as acid rain or eutrophication (Holmberg et al. 1996).

Currently there are various processes heavy influenced by human interference, as the overview in Table 2 demonstrates.

Table 2: Human disturbances of natural flows and ecosystems

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Source: (Karlsson et al. 1997)

This principle amongst other limitations, restricts the extraction rate of fossil fuels and metals, and promotes the reusing and recycling of already extracted materials as well as the transmaterialisation from scarce to abundant sources.

Substances produced by society must not systematically accumulate in the ecosphere The second principle deals with the problem that in our present society many different kinds of materials are produced and some of them, such as DDT, are long-lived. The emission of these materials at rates higher than their degradation rate leads to accumulation in the ecosphere (Holmberg et al. 1996).

Therefore it is important to reduce the emissions of these substances (e.g. by degrading them further in the technosphere or depositing them in final disposals) and restrict the use of long-living substances that are foreign to nature, such as DDT, CFC or PCB (Holmberg et al. 1996).

No deterioration of the physical conditions for production and diversity in the ecosphere The third principle says that the actions taken in society should not diminish the physical conditions for future generations on the planet in regards to production capacity in the ecosphere and diversity in the biosphere. Therefore current actions such as deforestation, land degradation, replacing productive land with asphalt roads must not be sustained (Holmberg et al. 1996).

As our society is dependent on a functioning ecosystem, it is important that society is careful with the manipulation of its resources in order to avoid biodiversity and natural productivity loss. Society must as a result neither take more resources from the ecosphere than are regenerated by natural processes nor reduce natural productivity through manipulating the natural systems (Holmberg et al. 1996).

Efficient and just use of resources to meet human needs

The fourth principle states that our society not only must respect its influence on the ecosphere, biosphere and lithosphere, but also to use the resources available in a socially fair and efficient manner to have the most positive impact. As a result resources have to be distributed justly amongst the human individuals (Holmberg et al. 1996).

B – Analyse the present situation in relation to the framework

The second step means that current activities should be analysed in order to have a good background knowledge during the development of future strategies. Questions regarding the alignment of current products, services, production processes and other activities with sustainability principles should be raised (Holmberg 1998).

C – Envision future solutions

The future solutions envisioned in the third step should be rather broad and not too detailed, but meet the principles for sustainability (Holmberg 1998).

In this particular project the Challenge Lab looked to detail possible outcomes for the future transportation system and how this could support the envisioned future. Some of the outcomes were as follows:

- A transportation system that is not based on fossil fuels, but on renewable solutions such as electricity from renewables, certain biofuels or hydrogen.
- A shift of the transportation modes towards more efficient ones, such as public transport and bicycles.
- A better utilisation of the infrastructure by car sharing or bike sharing.

D – Finding strategies for sustainability

In this last step, strategies are defined that will lead from the current to the envisioned future situation. Each strategy should:

- bring society closer to the sustainable future
- lead to an intermediate platform that is flexible enough for the following strategy and does not lead to a dead end
- payoff soon enough in order to make the investment attractive
- introduce changes at a sufficient scale and speed without causing too many losses (Holmberg 1998).

Positive strategies that the Challenge Lab team came up with included:

- focusing urban development on more sustainable transport modes such as biking or walking
- decreasing the distance between residential areas and work places or recreational areas in order to limit transportation need
- reducing car size in order to require less material for manufacturing
- combining public transit with other modes of transportation to increase the its attractiveness and utilisation by the public

2.1.2 Process and utilised Tools

The backcasting approach was applied by learning and using two distinct tools, the global funnel and the sustainability compass.

Global challenges – the funnel

The first tool, called the funnel, developed by Robèrt et al. (1997) shows that it is obvious that our society has to reduce its impact on the environment caused by increasing population, an ever growing economy and raising energy demands. Furthermore we have to face decreasing resources, the threshold of assimilation capacity and the limited land area on our planet. It is necessary to move from the current unsustainable society to a more long-term thinking society that takes future generations into account.

There are trends visible that point towards the right direction, but most industries and countries, especially in the developing, low income nations, are facing increasing energy consumption and population, resource depletion and land area restrictions as can be seen in Figure 5.

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Figure 5: The resource and demand funnel

Only by tackling both trends and trying to solve the drivers behind them a sustainable society can be ensured.

Sustainability compass

During the creation process the Challenge Lab team used the compass concept by Daly (1973) to analyse the apparent problems and necessary changes in four different areas regarding the shift of today’s society towards sustainability. These four areas are abbreviated with the same letters as on a compass: N, E, S and W (see Figure 6).

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Figure 6: Sustainability compass

In this case they stand for different labels:

1. N - Nature How is the natural environment affected by the current system and what steps are necessary in order to overcome these impacts?
2. E – Economy How is the current economic system favouring an unsustainable society and how could this habit be influenced?
3. S – Society What factors in our current social system lead to the choice of unsustainable solutions in our society and what actions are needed to overcome these barriers?
4. W - Well-being How is the individual well-being affected by the current system and what improvements could be introduced towards more sustainable solutions?

Each of the area was investigated with respect to three different questions:

- What are the qualitative challenges in each area?
- What are the quantitative parameters defining the challenges in each area?
- How do the principles for sustainability apply in each area and with which indicators can they be measured?

The tool is used for improving progress towards sustainability. It helps to create indicators of sustainability, assess the performance of a project in regards to sustainability and communicate sustainability in terms that are easily understood (Daly 1973).

2.1.3 Findings from using the Tools

The following sections will summarise the results found by utilising the tools described in section 2.1.2.

Global challenges – the funnel

During the work on the funnel, six important segments, according to Robèrt et al. (1997), were analysed:

- Resource restrictions
- Assimilation capacity
- Land area restrictions
- Population
- Economy
- Material- and energy use

The following sections will give a short overview of the issues in each segment, for more detailed information there will be references to Appendix A.

Resource restrictions

The first restriction deals with the diminishing resources.

In the 20th century cheap resources were one of the driving forces behind economic growth. Despite the increasing demand for energy, metals, food and water, market prices did not increase due to the finding of new resources as well as increases in general productivity. Therefore global prices fell by almost half in real terms during the 20th century as stated in McKinsey Global Institute’s Commodity Index (McKinsey Global Institute 2013).

However, beginning in the year 2000, the situation changed. On average, resource prices more than doubled (Figure 7). One fact influencing the increase in prices has been the rapid demand from emerging countries with rising incomes such as China or India due. Their tremendous economic growth resulted in a high demand for minerals needed to build the supportive infrastructure, energy for industry and households, and the materials necessary for agriculture, such as fertilizers. Simultaneously, less new resources, excluding unconventional oil and gas, have been found due to more difficult geological settings and increasing input costs (McKinsey Global Institute 2013).

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Figure 7: Resource price trend

Source: (Grilli and Yang; Pfaffenzeller; World Bank; International Monetary Fund; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development statistics; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; UN Comtrade; McKinsey) as cited in McKinsey Global Institute (2013).

Due to increasing scarcity, the price volatility of energy, metals, food and other agricultural raw materials has become more frequent over the past few years. This is partly because of short-term factors, such as droughts, floods, labour strikes and export restrictions, but also a result of the diminishing ability to satisfy the demand. Supply became inelastic to price, meaning that even small change in demand could drive a greater increase in price, resulting in a higher price volatility. Overall, this trend is expected to continue as finding new sources of supply is becoming more difficult and those discovered are generally in less productive locations as it is the case with oil, mining and copper discoveries (McKinsey Global Institute 2013).

This resource scarcity applies to many different materials, such as oil, metals and water. A more detailed overview of these three material types can be found in Appendix A.

Assimilation Capacity

This section will provide an overview of the trends concerning humanity’s emissions and its effect on the environment. Since the industrial revolution humanity has increased its impact on the environment to a huge extent.

Looking at Figure 8 it is obvious that the concentration in the atmosphere has increased tremendously. The pre-industrial (1750) atmospheric concentration was around 277 parts per million (ppm). During the last 260 years it increased to 393ppm in 2012, a 42% increase. The further increase of the concentration seems threatening as during the whole pre-industrial area the concentration never increased substantially above 300ppm (C. Le Quéré et al. 2013).

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Figure 8: Increase of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere

Source: (C. Le Quéré et al. 2013)

These emissions are assimilated by several sinks, in particular land, ocean and the atmosphere. The majority of the emissions is taken up by the atmosphere as this sink is primarily affected. But also the ocean and land sinks are making up for the changes. The split of the average sinks since 1959 was the following:

45% in atmosphere, 28% in land and 27% in ocean sinks (C. Le Quéré et al. 2013).

Carbon dioxide is not the only source of impact on the environment. As demonstrated in Figure 9 humanity already puts high pressure on nature and has crossed several important thresholds.

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Figure 9: Planetary boundaries

Source: (Rockström et al. 2009)

The inner green shading, ranging over two circles, represents the proposed safe operating space for nine planetary system boundaries. The red wedges represent an estimate of the current position for each variable (Rockström et al. 2009). A more detailed overview of the limits can be found in Appendix A.

These developments have a major impact on the environment, in particular the global average surface temperature, the global average sea level and the northern hemisphere snow cover.

Global average surface temperature and sea level are clearly on the rise, +0.5°C and +50mm compared to the levels in 1961 respectively. The impact of a rising temperature is quite unclear, but according to the Asian Develompent Bank (2009) the impact can be tremendous. An increase over 3°C can lead to increased problems in regards to yield, water and ecosystems. Diseases such as malaria will also spread more widely and extreme weather events will be more frequent with a higher intensity (Asian Develompent Bank 2009).

Due to the stated reasons it is necessary to reduce the impact of humans on the environment and to constrain emissions and changes in the ecosystem induced by humans. The ecosystem changes without a shift towards a sustainable society are unpredictable and uncertain and it is not reasonable to hope that the odds will lead to an acceptable state.

Land-area restriction

This section will give the reader an overview of the trends regarding land-use.

The total land area on Earth is 159 million km2, of which about half has been directly affected by human activities and the other half is natural land as shown in Figure 10. These are of course only modest estimations and the real impact by humans can be much higher due to second-hand impact by buildings or impacts from installations that are not included, such as coastal modifications or power grids (Hooke et al. 2012).

Out of the 47% of natural land, 19% are mostly unsuitable for agriculture. This includes mountainous areas, arid regions and tundra. Left untouched are 28% of natural forest.

Cropland is land where food or goods are grown. Permanent meadows are uncultivated land, e.g. pasture land. Eroded sentiment are areas where sediment from man-made activities has been deposited. Land marked as “logging operations” are forests (natural or planted) that have been affected by the logging activity.

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As can be seen in Appendix A, the land conversion from forest to pasture and crop land is declining, mainly because of three reasons: increasing urbanisation, the restriction of available land itself and degradation of already cultivated land.

According to Wackernagel et al. (2002) human society needs 20% more land than is available, resulting in a period of overshoot. There are three ways to bring the impact of land usage on Earth back on a sustainable track:

1. Reduce the demand: Decrease the food loss and therefore the needed area for agriculture and pasture (Hooke et al. 2012).
2. Develop technological solutions: Adoption of farming practices that limit degradation and agriculture with a higher efficiency and lower impacts, resulting in a reduced need for agricultural land (e.g. ecological agriculture) (Hooke et al. 2012).
3. Reduce population: Better health care and education leading to a reduction in children per couple (Hooke et al. 2012).


This section will give a short overview on the developments in regards to population globally.

Global population is increasing, with projections from the UN shown in Figure 11, highlighting the potential number of approximately 9 billion people in 2050 and 9.9 billion people in 2100.

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The world population will apparently continue growing, but the growth rate is decreasing. Figure 12 shows that the growth rate rose from about 1.5 per cent per year from 1950-1951 to a peak of 2 per cent per year in the early 1960s, mainly due to reductions in mortality. Afterwards the growth rates started to decline, due to rising age at marriage and increasing availability as well as use of contraceptive methods (US Census Bureau 2011).

Growth rates in general cannot be seen as steady, as the dip between 1959 and 1960 in Figure 12 shows. This is the time that the Great Leap Forward in China occurred, resulting in a rising death rate in China and a reduction of its fertility rate by half due to both natural disasters and decreased agricultural output (US Census Bureau 2011).

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Figure 12: World population growth rate 1950-2050

Source: (US Census Bureau 2011)

Not only is the population rising, it is also increasingly moving to urban areas, as can be seen in Appendix A.

According to different sources, summed up by United Nations (2001), about two thirds of Earths caring capacity is between 4 and 16 billion persons, with a median value of about 10 billion. However, the range of all estimates is wide from under 1 billion to 1,000 billion persons. It is certain that the future or already apparent overpopulation will lead to severe constraints on the planet, limiting the resource and space per capita (United Nations 2001).

The severe increase of the overall population will not only have an effect on the environment through an increase of emissions, but also impact the resource utilization and the available resources per capita. This was shown in more detail in the section “Resource restrictions” above.


This section aims to provide an overview of the trends in the economic sector and its significance.

Since the crisis in 2008 a debt burden has spread across the public sector due to the costs of bail-outs, fiscal incentive programmes and too slowly growing tax revenues. As can be seen in Figure 13 countries, especially in the western world, have increased their debt tremendously over the recent years and several have reached a debt equal to over 200% of their GDP (The Economist 2012).

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Figure 13: Global overall debt in % of GDP

Source: (The Economist 2012)

Although the occurring shift towards a service economy (see Appendix A) could support a reduction in CO2 emissions, the globally caused CO2 emissions are still closely linked to the world economic output as is shown in Figure 14. This shows that on the short-run the world economic activity is strongly affecting the emissions and is a major cause of increasing CO2 emissions (Tapia Granados et al. 2012).

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Figure 14: Annual growth of world GDP (thick, green line, trillions of USD) and annual change of estimated CO2 emissions (thin, black line, millions of kt)

Source: (Tapia Granados et al. 2012)

This linkage also shows that it will be very difficult to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as long as countries are still aiming to increase their GDP as it is the case at the moment (Tapia Granados et al. 2012). The current necessity of GDP growth can be worrying if one looks at the difficulty of reducing carbon emission of the US society by at least 80 percent until 2050. This means that carbon intensity of production has to decline by 7 percent annually if the US economy continues to grow with 3 percent per year (Speth 2013).

Not only is GDP growth leading to more environmental degradation, but also currently to higher inequality. A research of Norton & Ariely (2011) shows that the lowest two income quintiles of the US society control only about 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent of the wealth, respectively. However, the highest quintile owns more than 80 percent of the society’s wealth. The facts are in strong contrast to the actual ideal stated by US citizens and therefore could result in social unrest. This has not happened so far as the American citizens drastically underestimate the level of wealth inequality, but this might change in the future (Norton & Ariely 2011).

Furthermore, GDP does not cover the whole “economy” of a country or society, as it does not account for inequality, environmental degradation or costs of pollution. For this reason it is necessary to rethink how the world’s economies work and implement different measurements. One of these examples could be benchmarks such as the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) or the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI). For instance the ISEW starts with the national private consumption and then adds nonmarket contributions to welfare such as unpaid housework and subtracts depreciation of natural resources and environmental assets as well as adjusting it for distributional inequalities.

Looking at China shows that although the country has a tremendous growth of about 10% per year, this happens at the expense of an environmental damage caused by air and water pollution, costing about $100 billion per year or six percent of China’s GDP. This is a prime example that large parts of economic growth are achieved most often at the cost of a country’s natural capital and that economic growth is anything but sustainable (World Bank 1997; World Bank 2007).

Material and energy use

Another restriction on the demand side is the ever-increasing material and energy consumption.

Although the correlation between human wellbeing and energy consumption is weak, it is obvious that a society consumes more energy as it becomes wealthier. This can easily be seen in Figure 15 comparing energy use of low income, middle income and high income countries.

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Figure 15: Energy use per capita (kg of oil equivalent)

Source: (World Bank 2014)

As stated in the section “Resource restrictions” the global society is facing diminishing resources and therefore it is necessary to promote energy conservation in rich countries, especially as long as not all our energy comes from renewable sources. It might be controversial, but Steinberger & Roberts (2010) showed that human wellbeing does not correlate with increasing energy consumption above a certain threshold.

According to Stern (2012) increasing wealth of a county also correlates with decreasing energy intensity and the majority of energy consumption will occur in developing countries, as shown in Appendix A.

Overall it is obvious that sooner or later, all countries, including high and low income ones, have to put more effort on reducing their energy consumption and make it less carbon intense in order to meet the requirements for a sustainable future.

Sustainability compass

Another tool utilised during Phase I was the so-called “Sustainability compass” by Daly (1973). This section describes the conclusions that the student team drew by applying the compass. The more detailed finding about parameters and goals are summarized in Appendix B.

The compass helped the student team to find the possible hot spots in the current system, in relation to the categories nature, economy, society and well-being (see Figure 6). The outcome of the work with the compass was that the student team identified that many hot spots are actually not related to technology, but rather behavioural change. Figure 16 shows that fewer problems were identified in the nature segment (green square), while most problems were found as stated in the economy and societal segment (red squares).

The technology for a change towards a sustainable society already exists, but it is our society that is slow to implement it due to a behavioural lock-in in the current situation. Overcoming this lock-in is quite difficult and requires a change of values for many different individuals, which will be explained later on.

In addition, there are certain trends, such as the increasing population that will threaten all attempts to improve sustainability through the counter impacts of an increasing number of people on the planet. One necessary measure will be to increase the education level of a vast number of people and to foster the role of women in society in order to decrease birth rates for the purpose of avoiding the projected ten billion people on this planet.

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Figure 16: Sustainability compass results

Overall the compass exercise showed that there are many issues that have to be tackled in all four categories, each one presenting its own challenge. Many categories are interlinked, as an increase in natural quality and a decoupling of the economy from growth could lead to a higher human well-being and a more resilient society.

The following sections summarise some of the issues the Challenge Lab team discovered throughout the process.


The major problems identified in this segment are the increasing pollution due to production, transportation and other, human-induced pressures on the environment. At the current trend of emissions, global warming will be a severe threat to future generations. A transition from fossil fuels towards more sustainable fuels is necessary, but also required actions to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing.

This not only applies to how products are manufactured, but also to how they are used. The current business model of increasing demand for products cannot be sustained on the long-term. It is vital that companies not only change their business aim from increasing sales each year to a more service based approach, but also improve collaboration and communication between the different stakeholders. This means better coordination of company actions that could lead for instance to a more circular economy approach in the companies’ practices. These common visions and actions can be a platform for a shift towards a more sustainable society.


The major problems identified in this category are the increasing resource scarcity, the globalisation of companies’ supply chains and the unequal shares on resources between different regions on the planet.

In order to reach a sustainable society, economic growth has to be decoupled from the increasing material and resource demand as well as the growing environmental impact. It is not feasible to have continuous growth together with an overall increasing demand and environmental impact. One way to support this is a shift from a one-directional economy to a circular one. In that sense resources would be used more efficiently in several usage stages and will also not be waste after being used in just one product. Resource distribution also has to be given a priority, since basic resources such as metals have a much bigger positive impact in developing countries than in the developed world, where they can mainly only provide minor benefits.


Looking at the societal category it was obvious that on a societal level the most threatening trend is the projected increase of the global population. With more people living on Earth an equal distribution of resources will become more challenging and complex. Failure of our society to reach a fairly equal distribution of vital resources, such as water, will threaten the stability of the current political system as well as global relationships.

In order to achieve a sustainable and peaceful society it is vital to induce a behavioural change amongst its citizens and to improve cross-cultural interactions. This is a necessity for the required collaboration between nations with different stakeholders and interests. By achieving a mind-set of a global society the work on global issues can be eased.

The transport sector will be severely affected by several changes in society. Not only is the population growing, leading to a higher demand and impact on the transport infrastructures, but the demography will change, resulting in different demands on the transport systems.

Human well-being

Another category on the compass was the human well-being. On a global scale it will not only be affected by the demographic development, but also the depletion of resources. In order to provide similar levels of well-being for everybody, it is essential to allocate resources differently and efficiently on a global scale. As stated above, material consumption has to be reduced and the demands and expectations in our society have to be altered.

Sustainable Development Principles

During the development process in the Challenge Lab the sustainable development principles were kept in mind in order to end up with solutions that meet the requirements for future generations. After analysing these criteria, the C-Lab team came up with the vision for the whole project:

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A sustainable future where the population (≈10 billion people) is able to meet their own needs, within the planetary boundaries, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own.

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All projects in Phase II are supposed to be aligned with the common vision. This ensured that the actions and targets set by each Phase II project meet the requirements regarding sustainability in a society.

The Wall

During the outside-in approach the Challenge Lab team gathered all the data it could find about the funnel (presented in the section “Global challenges – the funnel“) as well as the projects going on in Gothenburg that are related to sustainable transport such as:

- ElectriCity
- UbiGo
- HyperBus
- GoBiGas
- GreCOR
- Swiftly Green
- Send:Smart

In addition the goals set by either the local, regional, national or European policies in the time frames 2014-2019, 2020, 2030 and 2050 were highlighted and described in more detail as well as the general strategies towards a sustainable future. In order to show what this future was in particular the principles for sustainability, their indicators and finally the common Challenge Lab vision were shown on the wall, as can be seen in Figure 17.

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Figure 17: The Challenge Lab Wall

This was done in order to get a better picture and have material to present to visiting stakeholders. In addition it was a constant reminder of the challenges the global society faces and motivated the team to work on their distinct problem description.

2.1.4 Reflections on the Outside-In Methods

Overall the input from working on the outside-in perspective was valuable for the team members in order to see where the hot spots that provide good leverage for changing the system towards a more sustainable society are.

The work on the funnel might have been revision for some participants, but it helped to bring everyone on the same knowledge level and establish a common language for certain denotations thus improving the team communication on these topics. Investigating on the six segments of the funnel also led to the idea for the thesis at hand, in particular the fact that resources are diminishing and that our environment is having problems assimilating the emissions caused by humans while the demands of society are increasing constantly. Therefore this work was essential for raising the research question at the end of Phase I.

The sustainability compass sessions were not as essential to the outcome of the project, but raised an interesting issue: reaching a sustainable society is more a social and socio-technical challenge than a pure technical one. The problems are rather complex and it requires many different actors and actions in order to change the regimes and the landscape. This finding led the team to have a better understanding of the system and that the change should give the first-movers an advantage rather than making them sacrifice. However, besides those findings the compass itself was seen as superficial and the intended results such as indicators and parameters were not really used later on in the process.

Similar to the sustainability compass, the introduction of the multilevel perspective enhanced the team’s understanding of the functioning of the system. In contrast to the compass the results and reflections on this segment were actually used in some of the thesis projects in Phase II as the theory of the niche, regime and landscape levels inspired several teams in finding their research question, as it was the case for example with Per Härdfeldt’s and Johanna Hanson’s project “Diffusion of small electric vehicles - a possible success in the near future?”.

Besides the mentioned methods the Challenge Lab team also had visits from different stakeholders during Phase I. These can be seen as being part of the outside-in perspective. Their input was essential to find leverage points in the systems (e.g. the biofuel sector) and understand the transport system of Gothenburg and the Västra Götaland region in more detail. However, some of the inputs were more applicable than others. Some of the sessions were too broad and vague or not directly linked to the transport system per se. This is not implying that they were not valuable, but the possibility to include them in the actual project was limited compared to the more tangible and transport related sessions, such as those about biofuels or targets for the transport sector in the region.

It has to be said that some findings and research were broad and without too much detail due to time limitation and the need to focus on the actual research question/project in Phase II. This applies for instance to the work on the funnel that could fill a thesis by its own. Therefore it has to be clear that the outcomes in those sections are by far not complete and should only be seen as a rough introduction to the different aspects.

The outside-in approach overall was also beneficial to overcome the different educational backgrounds of the student team and make sure that everyone understands the issues our society is facing without having it as a major part of their education. The diversity was valuable in most respects, but without these inputs it could actually have been a disadvantage for the progress during the thesis work.

2.2 Inside-Out Perspective

In order to strengthen the student’s skills in dealing with different stakeholders and questioning the system and how it should work, they were provided with tools about self-leadership and dialogue, implemented in an approach that is different from most master theses. These tools and their impact on the group work will be outlined in the following sections.

2.2.1 Inside-Out -Methods

During the inside-out phase of the Challenge Lab process different methods were used in order to ensure that the student team could contribute to the outcome to its fullest potential. In the following chapters the distinct tools and approaches will be described that should enable this outcome.

Dialogue tools

One of the methods to improve ability of the student team to interact with different stakeholders was the introduction of dialogue tools by Sande (2014). According to Isaacs (1999) it is important to distinguish three different kinds of conversations (see also Figure 18):

- debate
- discussion
- dialogue

The difference between these tools is mainly the way in which the participants of a conversation interact with each other. In a debate as well as in a discussion both participants want to defend their opinion, resulting in a defensive communication style and the avoidance of trying to understand the other side’s opinion. In particular, a debate is about advocacy and trying to beat the opponent with one’s own arguments. This is the communication that most politicians use during elections, sometimes for the good (informing voters about relevant issues), sometimes for the bad (aggressive propaganda). A discussion’s focus is on the opposites of each another, creating tension. However, in comparison to a debate it is more hard data driven and proper reasoned. Nevertheless, it has still the same goal of convincing the other side and protecting one’s opinion.

A dialogue is different from debate and discussion. It is more about listening without resisting the other opinion and thinking together by accepting of disagreement on certain topics. However, this disagreement is not seen as a disadvantage, but as a possibility to exchange different views on the problem and come up with a compromise that is acceptable for both parties. As shown in Figure 19 four dialogue rules should be applied: listen, respect, suspend and voice.

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Figure 18: Different conversation types

Source: Isaacs (1999)

Participants should listen to each other without trying to resist each other’s views in order to better understand each other’s inputs. They should respect and honour the point of view of different inputs and try to find out how everything could fit together. At certain times they should suspend themselves and step back to perceive what is taken for granted and stop the flow of their current thoughts in order to be more present. And finally they should voice themselves and speak from their deepest self and not try to cover something up (Sande 2014).

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Figure 19: Rules for a dialogue

Source: (Sande 2014)

These rules and openness in a group lead to an increase in trust, resulting in an increased collaboration and participation. An increase in participation in turn enhances creativity and innovative support, leading to excitement and appreciation of the process, again fostering collaboration. This creates a self-reinforcing circle as in Figure 20 leading to a collective intelligent organisation that is resilient to disruption and a changing environment (Sande 2014).

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Figure 20: Reinforcing circle towards a more resilient organisation

Source: (Sandow & Allen 2005)

On the contrary, Figure 21 shows that a decrease in listening to each other creates misunderstandings, leading to a lack of trust and a separation of a group. This social separation results in redundant work, further fostering competition and fear amongst the group members. Overall, a decrease in listening and trying to understand each another increases costs and decreases the available resources to actually solve a problem due to the usage of a majority of the resources for redundant tasks and the result of participants tending to be unproductive due to fear. Furthermore it diminishes the group’s ability to face disruptive events. This is the reason why an open and understanding environment is important to create a positive environment (Sandow & Allen 2005).

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Figure 21: Misunderstand and its impact on the resilience of a group

Source: (Sandow & Allen 2005)

Circle and triangle time

During the dialogue sessions a concept about circle and triangle time and its implementation in the working life was introduced to the student team. It is important to distinguish between those two different phases, circle and triangle time, during the ideation process. They are used to on the one side make the process as open and creative as possible and on the other side still focus and meet certain goals and deadlines, as can be seen in Figure 22 (Sande 2014).

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Figure 22: Dividing time into two phases - circle and triangle time

Source: (Sande 2014)

In circle time the project team uses dialogue in order to enable learning and gather questions that are interesting. During this process everyone listens to another and is open to all kinds of ideas. Participation is usually high due to the fact that participants can create alternative solutions and know that their actions can have an effect. It is crucial that the team respects each other’s diverse backgrounds and values and utilise them as resources rather than barriers (Sande 2014).

Towards the end of the circle time the project team should narrow the focus towards the more promising ideas and enter the so called triangle time. During this phase focus is on decision making and choosing of priorities. This is necessary to move from a sometimes confusing process of ideation to a more goal driven way of working in order to meet certain deadlines and targets. It is important that the taken decisions in this process are accepted and clear roles are taken (Sande 2014).

After the narrowing down of the scope the team can enter a new phase of ideation by starting another circle time. This process continues until the goal is reached (Sande 2014).

Preeera’s 5R model

In order to foster dialogue Sande (2014) showed the Challenge Lab five important inputs, called Preeera’s 5R model:

- Room
- Relations
- Roles
- Routines
- Results

The room is important as it is the setting and environment for the dialogue to happen in. Each participant has to see each other’s faces, therefore a circle is the best setting. In order to foster presence and safety among the people a “Check-in round” should be done at the beginning, completed with a “Check-out round” at the end to evaluate the meeting. During the process the room should be used by dedicating one or more person(s) to record questions and insights on whiteboards, flipcharts, walls or post-its (Sande 2014).

During the dialogue it is important that the participants respect the relations between each other. Everyone should keep a balance between advocating one’s view and inquiring by asking questions. The four dialogue rules of listen, respect, suspend and voice should be met.

In the dialogue there are different kinds of roles that can be taken.

- Mover: This person initiates a topic or provides correction to an already ongoing one.
- Follower: This person supports an ongoing topic and completes it with information.
- Opponent: This person challenges the current direction of thinking and provides correction to it.
- Bystander: This person mainly observes and provides a more objective perspective.

In order to create a wanted environment such as an open one, everyone has to choose to behave in that way, e.g. by being open to each other (Sande 2014).

To improve the dialogue and make it an inherent part of the group’s communication, certain routines should be implemented. During the dialogue it is important to use questions that are worth taking up the participants’ time, resulting in powerful questions that focus intention, attention and energy. Resistance and difference in views should be actively invited and the reflection should switch between individual, group and collective ones to get a diverse input for solutions. In order to reflect and pause the process phases of silence can be used (Sande 2014).

Finally, in order to get most out of the results, everyone’s contribution should be taken in consideration by using “Go rounds” several times during and at the end of the dialogue. The emerging patterns and similarities in the different solutions should be highlighted and every participant engaged in finding the next step. This is the moment where the group should also switch from circular time to triangle time and narrow down the scope of the found ideas and solutions (Sande 2014).


During the introduction phase the team was also involved in a workshop led by Göran Carstedt[1], highlighting important aspects of leadership in our current society. This section was intended to give the reader an understanding of the term “leadership” and why it is important for a change of our society.

Comparing the current development to the past, it is clear that the industrial revolution neither had a master plan, a start and end, was not lead by one agent in particular nor was it an initiative of politicians. Instead it took a million of small beginnings, the suggested change had to lead to better solutions and human creativity was essential in the process. This can be an argument for claiming that in order to move towards a more sustainable future, this targeted future has to be desirable. In this respect change agents should not be anxious critics of the past, but be wishful thinkers about a better future, doing wrong things in a better way (Carstedt 2014).

In order to foster good leadership it takes a meaningful purpose, creating a culture that shows a willingness to learn. This meaningful cause liberates also human creativity, leading to personal transformation that in itself leads to organizational transformation. Leadership in this sense is not a position per se, it is more a commitment and a path towards the common vision of a sustainable future (Carstedt 2014).

According to Kahane (1999) there are four important steps to consider while implementing a common strategy towards a common vision.

First, every member in a team, including the leader, must let go of arrogance of knowing everything and move towards wondering about new inputs and ideas. This leads to the second point of moving away from black-and-white approach that tries to keep everything under control towards a process of greater openness and influence from every member.

In addition, strategy and learning is more than just an affair of one’s mind. It needs an engaging of other parts as well, including the heart and spirit. This is in line with the need for a common vision for the team that is not only based on facts, but also connected more to the emotional part of each member.

Finally, it is vital that a group, in particular in our society, moves away from a very passive attitude of just adapting and reacting to changes, towards a group that is more generative and proactive in order to promote changes.

Values for leadership

During the Challenge Lab process the team was also introduced to leadership modules, led by Dominic von Martens from the organisation SelfLeaders. The following sections will try to give an overview of how leadership can be identified and how the learning process was implemented in the Challenge Lab.

Values for leadership on an individual scale

In order to be a leader, it takes more than just a high IQ or good technical skills. It becomes obvious that a basic prerequisite for good leaders is having a very high emotional intelligence (EI), resulting in a better collaboration with other people. EI can be split up in five different sub-components. (Goleman 1998)

- Self-Awareness: knowing one’s strengths, weaknesses, drives and values
- Self-Regulation: being able to control one’s moods and impulses
- Motivation: being driven to achieve a goal by the achievement itself
- Empathy: being able to understand other people’s feelings
- Social skill: being able to find common ground and being skilled in managing relationships (Goleman 1998).

A person can increase its EI, but it takes sincere desire and concerted effort.

In a team it is important to be open with each other, in order to create trust. Leaders should therefore not seem to be perfect, but human, exposing also their weaknesses. However, this should not be a weakness that others in the team see as fatal, such as failing to meet deadlines, but a weakness that is less important in the working life and could actually make a person more likable. This builds collaboration and solidarity, underscoring the leader’s approachability (Goffee & Jones 2001).

Leadership itself has many incarnations, there is not one single solution. In order to be an authentic leader you have to be the person you are and not try to be somebody else. This reflects back on the self-awareness and the need of practicing one’s values and principles, even if it may on the short-run harm one’s career. Even according to the Advisory Council of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, self-awareness is the most important capability to develop for leaders (George et al. 2007).

In order to be self-aware one has to know the true values that derive from one’s beliefs and convictions. But these can only be discovered while tested under pressure as it is easy to list values and live by them as long as things are going well. Only when something such as a career hangs in the balance, true values show themselves (George et al. 2007).

According to Hall (1995) values are ideals that are significant to us and prioritized. These are different for various people, ranging from survival and security to family, leisure and self-fulfilment. Values are increasingly important as they steer the behaviour of individuals and entire cultures. Hall (1995) claims that it is impossible to implement a major change without changing the view of reality and the values of individuals first. If understood, values can tell what drives human beings and organisations and causes them to be exceptional in distinct fields.

According to Brian P. Hall’s and Benjamin Tonna’s research (Hall et al. 1994) there are 125 values central for the western culture. Mankind overall comprises about 500 core values, broken-down into 30-40 values for an individual and 5-10 values that a person is conscious about in daily life. But they are not the only driving force; an individual’s personality is also driven by three principles: the Mental, Emotional and Physical. Each of these principles foster certain kinds of values in a person, that can either be more extrinsic or intrinsic (Hall et al. 1994).

On an individual level it is important to keep a good balance between extrinsic and intrinsic values. This helps leaders to sustain their motivation, keep their life in balance and give them fulfilment in their work (George et al. 2007).

Values on a societal scale

According to Crompton (2010) there are certain values that motivate and certain ones that suppress behaviour which addresses bigger-than-self problems. Figure 23 gives an overview of the different values and how they relate to extrinsic and intrinsic dichotomy and to self-transcendence and the physical self.

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Figure 23: Overview of value segmentation

Source: (Crompton 2010)

Cultures that put greater importance to self-enhancement and conservation values (e.g. power and security) are found to be less concerned about global conflict and show higher prejudice towards people of another race, religion or gender, which are therefore also less supportive of immigration. In addition, they are less worried about environmental damage and behave in less environmental ways. The opposite is true for societies that value self-transcendence and openness to change higher (Crompton 2010).

Furthermore individuals with extrinsic goals such as financial success are less concerned about bigger-than-self problems compared to intrinsic goals (e.g. community feeling) that lead to higher incidences of behaviour corresponding to bigger-than-self problems (Crompton 2010).

On a social scale it is important to activate values that lead to a greater concern about bigger-than-self problems and thereby strengthening these particular value sets. Many factors influence and strengthen value sets, such as conveyance by media, exposure to commercial marketing and campaigns that organisations produce themselves. Therefore it is obvious that businesses have to take responsibility for both their “material impacts” as well as their influence on cultural values (Crompton 2010).

2.2.2 Application of the Methods in the Challenge Lab Process

The leadership and value sessions with Dominic von Martens were particularly valuable. The findings in research mentioned are one of the reasons why the student team in the Challenge Lab identified that they themselves to a large extent had intrinsic values. Besides getting to know each other in the first days, the team had a full day workshop on their values and how this concerns leadership skills.

The workshops with Dominic were the starting point during the first day at the Challenge Lab. An important rule from the beginning was to be open with each other during these exercises and the whole project; openness leads to trust amongst the group and during the collaboration stage.

Several techniques were introduced and used, which are briefly described below.

Meaning Map: Prior to the actual start each team member had to fill out an online survey organised by Dominic von Martens from SelfLeaders. The outcome of this exercise was a so-called Meaning Map, highlighting the most important values for each individual. In the online survey the participants had to rank the importance of values shown among a set of values on the screen. The highest valued one was taken to the next comparison screen afterwards. This was continued until a different value was chosen to be the most valuable. At the end each participant had an individual map of their most important values in different segments: Cycle 1 - Foundation, Cycle 2 - Focus, Cycle 3 –Vision (Figure 24).

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Figure 24: Author’s Meaning Map

Source: (ValuesOnline Nordic AB 2014)

Foundation refers to values that are more deeply rooted to the individual’s past and the person’s core values that are inherently important to him/her. Focus values are those most connected to the present and what the person values at the moment. Vision values are those most related to the future and how the person wants to act towards it.

Active listening - dialogue between three participants: During active listening sessions each of the dialogue members took a certain role during the exercise, either facilitator, focus person or observer. The task was to understand each other’s goals and values through telling a life story that lead to each of the more important values identified in the meaning map earlier. The facilitator should listen with presence, but not ask questions or comment on things mentioned by the focus person. At the end of each person speaking, the observer and focus person summed up their experience and switched roles. After experiencing all different roles this process not only resulted in a self-reflection, but also in a closer connection between the group members.

Monthly matrix: In this exercise the person should highlight three good things that happened the previous month and what kind of new insights and learnings that were gained. Looking ahead the person should highlight three values that should be in focus for the upcoming month and to what kind of action those will lead. The individual reflections were exchanged in groups of two, one having the role of the facilitator and one the role of the focus person. The aim was to have a positive attitude about the past and a clear path into the future.

Pearl of the day: In this exercise every participant shared their favourite part of the day with each other in a circle. This sums up the day with a positive feeling and strengthens the group feeling. At the end of the first workshop every team member had to pick their most important value for the upcoming months in the Challenge Lab and together with an individual motivation put them on a value card.

Six thinking hats: In order to improve the outcome of meetings the Challenge Lab team was introduced to a tool called “The six thinking hats”, developed by Bono (1986). The meeting is split into six different parts, each one presenting a distinct thinking phase. In “The White Hat” phase the participants should focus on the hard facts, data and information that is known or needed. This is in contrast to “The Red Hat” phase where everyone pays attention to the feeling, gut instinct and intuition that comes up with a certain decision. During “The Yellow Hat” time the team focuses on the values and benefits of an action and why something may work. In order to not only see the positive effects, “The Black Hat” phase focuses on difficulties and problems that could come up and why something might not work. In order to overcome these issues the “Green Hat” thinking focuses on creative ways to come up with possibilities, alternatives, solutions and new ideas. Finally, to make sure that further actions will be taken, “Blue Hat” thinking focuses on the management of the process, which steps should be taken next and comes up with action plans (Bono 1986).

2.2.3 Reflections on the Inside-Out Methods

Overall it has to be said that the inside-out perspective added great value to the whole Challenge Lab experience. Skills such as dialogue or leadership tools are not on the general agenda of an education at university that focuses more on “tangible” subjects such as physics or fluid dynamics. However, these skills should not be underestimated, as they are highly valuable in the later working life, especially if a person has to deal with many different stakeholders with diverse backgrounds.

The dialogue tools in particular improved the ability of the team to interact with stakeholders, but also helped to have a better communication amongst the thesis groups later on in Phase II. Especially the approach of circle and triangle time was an interesting concept as it differentiates to the common way of linear working towards a goal. At the beginning it was difficult to understand and apply this approach, but after the first and second session together with Martin Sande it became clearer how it can be applied in the Challenge Lab process. Phase I can be seen as a more circular project phase while Phase II was a more linear process. However, both phases included linear and circular segments and as a result it was beneficial to have known about the concepts in beforehand.

The input given by Göran Carstedt was very inspirational and opened the eyes of some participants to the fact that even in the business sector you can work on sustainability issues without being viewed as an environmentalist. It gave the student team a great motivation to move forward and achieve the best possible outcome with their projects. However, it has to be said that some of the sessions with Göran Carstedt were overlapping with other sessions, particular those by Dominic von Martens. But overall it can be said that the experience of exchanging knowledge with Göran Carstedt was of great value and showed how our society has to develop in the near future.

The sessions about leadership and values with Dominic von Martens were another extraordinary experience in the Challenge Lab. Dominic von Martens helped to show each participant their unique driving forces and deeper motivation for taking part in the Challenge Lab and also for their effort of introducing and working on sustainable concepts for our society. This was very different from a traditional thesis approach and even though many knew some reasons for being part in this experience, the values on a deeper level were often surprising and eye-opening.

The most helpful tools for the thesis at hand were most certainly the value session with Dominic von Martens. Although I had already quite an understanding of the reasons for being part of the Challenge Lab and eagerness for supporting a change towards a more sustainable society, the additional input through this workshops was highly valuable. By creating the open environment it was possible to be honest to myself and really work on an idea/research question that felt meaningful. In addition utilising the tools learned in the workshops provided a source of motivation during times when the work became more stressful.

The following sections try to convey the main reflections and results from utilising the methods and tools during the inside-out approach and how they affected the work in the Challenge Lab.

Dialogue tools

While working with Martin Sande it became clear that in order to change the system it is necessary to collaborate with many different stakeholders that have a different agenda and sometimes contrasting interests. However, through an open environment and by fostering a dialogue these differences can be handled and the collaboration can be more focused on the areas where the stakeholders have common interests. By focusing on similarities collaboration gets much more efficient and the involved stakeholders can also understand each other’s point of view better.

During sessions with external stakeholders it became apparent that these tools are not used in the everyday work life and that this is sometimes a barrier and obstacle for good collaboration. As openness creates trust and trust leads to a better working environment that fosters more creative and innovative approaches for problems and challenges, this can become a huge obstacle for the operation of a company and its business development. Therefore it is essential that such tools are becoming more widespread across businesses in order to not only foster openness, but also innovation through knowledge exchange and collaboration. This will not only result in a good working environment and company culture, but also raise the company’s competitiveness in the market.

Using the above mentioned tools made it possible for the Challenge Lab team to connect with the stakeholders. By being students it was easy to have a common interaction with stakeholders as the Challenge Lab team’s agenda was to promote sustainability, and learn about the different stakeholder’s views.


It became obvious through the session with Göran Carstedt that the current system can be changed more easily if the change is leading to a desirable future. If students want to be change agents and influence society it is important to provide a solution that can be developed in niches and after gaining momentum reach a mass market. Therefore resulting in a solution that can be accepted by a vast majority of the population while still changing the system.

Therefore the team tried to choose projects that provide a benefit for society and actually improve life quality or provide additional services. This leads to a positive picture of sustainable solutions and a further drive towards a change of the current society. However, the student team also got to know that sometimes change can only be brought by not focusing on the change itself, but by emphasising the positive side-effects. It is necessary to change the dominant values in our society rather than forcing change from the outside.

Values for leadership

The workshops with Dominic von Martens were dealing with similar topics as Göran Carstedt covered in his presentation. In order to bring change it is important to know about one’s own values and the driving force behind one’s actions. Only by knowing this is it possible to bring the necessary change and create the needed collaboration between the different parties and stakeholders.

It was not only highly valuable to better understand one’s own values, but the team sessions definitely improved the team feeling and the working environment amongst the team members. The open environment that was fostered from the beginning helped to build trust amongst the Challenge Lab participants and to promote collaboration amongst them.

Some of the tools learned, such as the monthly matrix and the pearl of the day, helped to keep the motivation high and to focus on the right areas. Other tools could have helped the brainstorming sessions, but were unfortunately not used due to time limitations of visiting stakeholders or team members during the meetings.

Overall the session with Dominic von Martens were highly valuable in regards to build a team feeling and get to know each other. This also helped to create the teams later on and come up with the research topic and question.

2.3 Transition of Socio-Technical Systems – Multilevel Perspective

During Phase I the Challenge Lab team was also introduced to the multilevel perspective, which will be described in the following paragraphs.

2.3.1 Theory and Process

In order to move towards a more sustainable society Technological Transitions (TT) are needed, meaning major, long-term technological changes of societal functions. These include both changes in technology as well as changes in regulation, networks, infrastructure, consumer behaviour and culture. Looking at Figure 25 society can be divided into three levels: niches, regimes and landscape.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 25: Overview of the multiple-levels perspective

Source: (Geels 2002)

Regimes contain various linkages between heterogeneous elements, resulting in a stable sociotechnical configuration. These linkages result in interactions between social groups that (re)produce them, e.g. road infrastructure and car regulations. These regimes create knowledge clusters and networks, causing a technological trajectory as the community moves into the same direction, such as relying on fossil fuel powered cars. As a result these technological regimes foster stability between the different stakeholders as they target the innovation towards incremental changes in the existing system. These trajectories are influenced by a wide variety of groups, such as users, banks, scientists and politicians. In such a system innovation can still occur, but it is mostly of incremental kind (Geels 2002).

Technological regimes are situated in a socio-technical landscape, including many different structural trends and a wide variety of technology-external factors. Compared to regimes, a landscape is even harder to change and thus develop slowly over time. These include demographic trends, cultural and broad political changes.

On the contrary of technological regimes, niches are inheriting disruptive technologies and act as some sort of “incubation rooms” for these radical novelties. They develop technologies of low technical performance that are often expensive and cumbersome. During the development process of these technologies they also foster networks between important stakeholders in a specific field, such as supply-chains, and provide a platform for learning processes, e.g. learning by doing, by using and by interacting (Rosenberg 1976; Von Hippel 1988; Lundvall 1988; Kemp et al. 1998; Kemp et al. 2001).

Niches are crucial for the change to a new regime and landscape as they provide the seeds for this transition. During the process of developing new technologies in this level efforts go in all kind of directions as a common trajectory is not established yet, resulting in a wide variety of solutions. The radical innovations that get developed can either gradually stabilise and move into the technology regime or stop being developed due to difficulties discovered during development that are impossible to overcome. In case of tensions in the regimes or shift of the landscape putting pressure on the regimes, windows of opportunity get created, by which radical innovations can break-out of niches and get established, resulting in a new sociotechnical regime that might initiate changes on the landscape level. An overview of such a break-out can be seen in Figure 26 (Geels 2002).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 26: A dynamic view of technology transitions and break-out of niche applications

Source: (Geels 2002)

According to Geels (2002) there are three different mechanisms that lead to TT:

- Niche-accumulation
- Technological add-on
- Hybridisation

As the step from niche to the regime-level does not occur at once, niche applications are at the beginning mostly used at subsequent domains and market niches, resulting in an accumulation of niches. Shifting from a niche to a mainstream application is not an easy process and involves experimentation, learning and adjustments during the development as well as the already mentioned formation of stakeholder networks during niche applications (Geels 2002; Van Ende & Kemp 1999; Summerton 1994).

The main obstacle for new technologies is that markets are not established yet. Radically new technologies co-evolve with users and markets. In order to make a breakthrough of a niche application easier it can use specific mechanisms of add-on and hybridisation. In this case the new technology links up with an already existing infrastructure, resulting in a symbiosis rather than a competition between old and new technologies at the beginning (Geels 2002).

Another mechanism for niches to get to the regime level is to take advantage of growth in certain sectors. As sectors grow, they might face problems along the way and this can result in a competitive advantage of the niche application over the dominant technology, which as a result will shift towards the disruptive technology (Geels 2002).

Overall it can be said that a technological transition does not occur because of the sudden shift of a regime to another, but due to a stepwise process of reconfiguration and adaptation. In this respect cascade effects are also important as the change of one element of the regime can result in the change of other elements, leading to further transformations and eventually shifting not only regimes but also the landscape. Therefore breakthroughs of new technologies depend on processes both on the regime and the landscape level (Geels 2002).

2.3.2 Outcome and Reflection

The multi-level perspective was useful in order to see how the projects of the Challenge Lab could be implemented in the current technology regime or what developments and actions are needed to further promote a technology.

For some of the thesis projects it became clear that one way to change the system is by building up a symbiosis with the current system. Other thesis teams discovered areas where it is not clear how the current network niches look like and who actually has the power to change the regime or what is necessary in order to shift the system and the landscape to a more sustainable society.

2.4 Design-thinking

In addition to the inside-out, outside-in and multi-level perspective approach the student team was also introduced to the design-thinking process by Örjan Söderberg during Phase I.

2.4.1 Theory and Process

The following section tries to give the reader an understanding of the design-thinking approach. This approach was taught in two full day sessions with Örjan Söderberg at the Challenge Lab and meant to be implemented in the Phase II projects.

As can be seen in Figure 27 every team member should focus on different systems, starting with the global societal system, followed by the socio-technical, product service and the product technology system.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 27: Multilevel Design Methodology

Source: (Söderberg 2014)

During the focus on the global sustainable system the most important global challenges (the funnel), criteria for sustainability and ways to deal with complex systems were investigated. By learning the dialogue tools mentioned further on, skills to collaborate transdisciplinary with the academic, private and public sector were acquired by the team. Further on the inner driving forces of everyone were reflected upon and possibilities for how the team’s values can help to bring system change and collaboration amongst the different stakeholders were examined.

Starting from the rough global picture, the socio-technical system became more focused. The team came up with a vision of a future sustainable system and identified the needs and stakeholders in such a system. In order to make the concept more tangible for each participant a session investigating the needs and requirements of users of postal services were carried out. This helped the participants to have an understanding of the next steps in the working stages.

Linked to the idea and concept stage is the product service or technology system, depending if the thesis project is focused on a service or technology. During these levels the areas of each thesis had to be defined to frame the extent for how problem will be investigated. In addition, a problem description document had to be written by every participant, including a needs and requirements list for the specific area, resulting in the creation of ideas and concepts further on.

2.4.2 Outcome and Reflection

The outcome of this process was first a description of the seven thesis topics developed by each thesis team later on. Each of the different projects focus on a different level in the system, some of them are even between the socio-technical and the product service or the product service and the product technology system.

It was seen from the beginning as an interesting approach to structure thesis research as it is completely different from the usual way a thesis is written. However, for some thesis topics that are more situated in the socio-technical system, it was hard to find a way to integrate the design thinking methodology in the process.

This was due to the fact that many team members experienced the design thinking approach to be very customer focused as it puts high importance on the product level. However, some projects are more broad and system-focused, which made it difficult to apply the more product-centred design thinking. In these groups the approach was seen to be quite abstract and not providing a lot of beneficial input to their thesis work.

On the contrary, thesis teams that were working on more product-related research found the design-thinking approach more helpful and could apply some of the guidelines that were given during the session with Örjan Söderberg.

This shows that it would be beneficial for the coming generation(s) of Challenge Lab participants to have different guidelines, depending on the actual work the distinct ideas that thesis team will conduct during their research.

2.5 Development of the Research Project

The following section describes briefly how the author of this thesis came up with his research project.

During the process of looking at the current situation and where our society has to move in order to become sustainable, severe challenges connected to it were found. Not only is our population increasing and economies growing on a steady rate, but many resources are also diminishing.

This shows clearly that not every person on Earth can have the same level of resource use as Europeans or US citizens. Therefore another system has to be found that not only reduces the impact of each citizen, but also in the best scenario provides the same or even better living standard than the current one. Looking at current trends in more detail it seems that there is a movement from owning things to using services instead, e.g. renting equipment or renting cars. The usage of services can be seen as the core of the sharing economy. Here people collaboratively share their resources with each another instead of owning objects individually.

As a result participants of such a collaborative way of living cannot only access services, but also reduce the impact on the environment due to the reduction of personal consumption. Furthermore it would also change business models of companies from selling goods to maintaining current equipment to make it as durable as possible as they sell services. This would lead to longer-lasting goods and a reduced resource consumption. Therefore it is seen as a possible solution to the current paradigm of individual ownership in the technological regime.

Regarding what the Challenge Lab team learned in Phase I during the dialogue sessions with Martin Sande, collaboration leads to increased participation, creativity and innovation as well as trust and understanding. This was also found to be an important leverage point during the compass session as solidarity leads to human well-being.

These needs could be met with a sharing economy, which is the main reason why the question got raised during the ideation phase of the Challenge Lab. The outcome of the research on this question will be shown in the following sections.


[1] Göran Carstedt, session in the Challenge Lab on “Leadership towards a sustainable society”, 24 January 2014

Excerpt out of 141 pages


Design of a Sharing Platform for Objects in Gothenburg
Challenge Lab. Sustainable Mobility and Transport Solutions
Chalmers University of Technology Foundation Göteborg  (Sustainable Energy Systems)
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ISBN (Book)
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Challenge Lab, innovation lab, sharing economy, stakeholders, technical innovation systems, ElectriCity, Gothenburg Startup Hack
Quote paper
Andreas Lehner (Author), 2014, Design of a Sharing Platform for Objects in Gothenburg, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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