Circularity case studies

Circle Economy revamps open Knowledge Hub | Search library

The potential for open innovation through collaborative learning is often rehearsed, but much harder to prove. Amsterdam-based NGO Circle Economy‘s revamped Knowledge Hub is a useful step in that direction. Project lead Yasmina Lembachar has curated this project under the auspices of Circle Economy’s Circle Lab from inception in 2018: “The Knowledge Hub is an open-collaborative library of circular economy case studies—similar to Wikipedia, it aims to democratise access to knowledge and, in doing so, to break down knowledge barriers to the circular economy transition,” she says.

The latest version, redesigned for 2021, combines case studies from a growing network of circular economy organisations spanning (at my count) at least four continents. In this Wiki-style format, the inevitable gaps and duplication don’t matter: anyone can contribute new material or update existing content – and version history ensures that nothing is lost. All content is indexed in three categories: case studies/reports, frameworks/strategies and policy.

Knowledge partners in Circle Economy’s Circle Lab Knowledge Hub

Some big names are conspicuously absent, notably the North American vanguard – corporates and start-ups – who are setting the agenda for product take-back and zero-waste, and Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the UK-based institutional incumbent in the field. If for now, the Knowledge Hub’s open-source ethos may be a step too far for some, the roster of contributing organisations speaks to a growing appetite in academia, civil society and industry to support meaningful knowledge transfer and peer-to-peer learning.


Climate Action 100+ is bigger than Big Oil

Even Good Intentions Have Unintended Consequences | Read Article

An alliance of investors controlling almost $50bn in assets, Climate Action 100+ has brought new impetus to cleaning up some of the world’s most polluting companies. But in the oil and gas sector, the group’s ‘softly, softly’ approach to engaging with oil majors has unintended consequences. Investors including the world’s biggest, BlackRock, acknowledge that climate change poses a material risk to their portfolios and fiduciary responsibility. But endorsing climate “ambitions” without concrete emissions targets has reduced the transparency which is driving the industry to assume a larger role in the energy transition to renewables.

In this January 2021 opinion piece, a follow-up to this January 2020 article for Responsible Investor, Follow This founder Mark van Baal and Mark Ashurst argue that oil company CEOs from BP to Shell have cited endorsements by the CA100+ alliance as a way to keep talking about the Paris Climate Agreement, while ‘new’ spending plans indicate that emissions from fossil fuels will rise until at least 2030.


How to be a Maestro

A Masterclass with Daniele Gatti | Read Blog

Leadership is often said to be a test of authenticity. No doubt this is true, but another way of putting it is to say that leaders learn to communicate by example. They must first create belief — and, from that, efficiency.

A Masterclass by Daniele Gatti, former chief conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, revealed a persuasive behavioural model for any complex organisation. Gatti and his band spent three consecutive days with four protégés, all rising stars of classical music: Nuno Coelho, Roderick Cox, Ruth Reinhardt and Tianyi Lu (pictured).

The correlation between Gatti’s insights and the orchestral response was immediately audible and compelling. His conducting is characterised by four principles: Articulation. Coolness. Economy (of style, and technique). Transparency. 

Video of the 2018 Masterclass is available via the following links on the Concertgebouw website: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.


Speech to Royal Dutch Shell AGM

Resolution 19 | Read Manuscript

On May 22nd 2018, Follow This founder Mark van Baal spoke at the Shell AGM in The Hague in support of Resolution 19. The choice for shareholders, he said,  was between “concrete” industry-leading climate targets and a “Whatever World” where oil and gas producers expect only to keep pace with wider society.

Resolution 19 asked Shell to commit to emissions targets in line with the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming by 2050 to less than two degrees. Follow This calculates that Shell, as the first oil major to acknowledge climate change in 1991, is uniquely responsive to shareholder pressure on climate goals.

On the day, 5.1% of shares were voted in favour with a record 7.2% abstentions. The combined 12.3% of dissenting voices declared a signal change in the climate of opinion among Dutch institutions. All of the 10 biggest asset managers in the Netherlands either voted for the resolution, or abstained from voting.


Fast Eats Slow

Not Big Eats Small | Refresher Video

Expect surprises! Change is exponential, rules are linear. This short refresher video includes five steps to ready any organisation for the unpredictable effects of disruption:

  1. Harness Data, for faster and better decisions.
  2. Decentralise, for a networked agile organisation.
  3. Find Strategic Purpose, for relevance and strength.
  4. Empower People, to motivate staff and stakeholders.
  5. Build Social Contracts, for knowledge-sharing and reciprocal commitments.
  • Video created for Stichting Wiechert ‘Young Talents’ event for the Real Estate industry, 2018.


Power of 9 

Read Faster | Read Smarter 

Power of 9 is a highly effective web-tool for accelerated learning and strategic engagement. Users navigate from a Cast Page through nine fields of interactive rich media.

A non-native custom web app hosted by WordPress, Power of 9 can be viewed in any popular web browser from any device. Standalone or serial editions can be hosted on any website, and shared via social media or mailshot.

Click here to view samples

  • 9Lives – Dragons At Your Door, in Power of 9 format.
  • From the book by Peter Williamson and Ming Zeng (Harvard Business Press)


Cognitive Bias 

Each of us has a strong instinct for making choices which yield advantage or recognition. The sum of those tendencies are a defining cultural force within organisations. Confirmation bias is one of many forms of cognitive bias which influence decision-making.

The Cognitive Bias Codex, designed by John Manoogian III at, charts more than 180 cognitive biases sourced from Wikipedia. Click here for the free download, under a creative commons licence.


Confirmation Bias

Cognitive biases are an obstacle to effective decision-making. Confirmation Bias is one variety, and arguably the most pervasive. Others include Anchoring, a tendency to attach too much significance to an initial decision or factor, which then determines subsequent choices; the Halo Effect, when a positive impression of a particular character or factor influences decisions on other criteria; and Overconfidence.

Like prejudice, cognitive bias steers us in the wrong direction. The documented trends of policy-based evidence in international development are an example, among many.

Boundless Management offers a variety of training materials on A summary of cognitive biases can be found here: Cognitive Biases as a Barrier to Decision Making.