The sweet spot: Why spaceships can help us design for a circular economy

According to Dana Meadows (1992), to reach systems change, the most important element is to have the power to transcend paradigms.

This is hard to do with anyone, let alone MBA students.

This week, Adam Lusby, adjunct lecturer at the Exeter MBA and Delfina Zagarzazú, 2016 Alumni, piloted a 2 day workshop coined Generation Space, where 43 students worked on the mission:

“Scope and define the internal characteristics of a spaceship that can evolve to host 1000 people for 1000 years for generational interstellar space travel”                

By setting the context in a galaxy, students were allowed to enter a new paradigm without considering it, allowing re-design  to happen at many different levels of a system including food, water, manufacturing and health to meet the needs of life in space.

Using Design Thinking to guide the process, the exploratory phase of  it allowed students to push the boundaries of creativity whilst in ideation staying aware of the need to build a circular economy strategy for the underlying importance of closed loop design to keep resources in use through the voyage.

What is your strategy to ensure the continuous uptime performance of all your resources? In other words, how do you propose to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value during the voyage?

Further inspiration for circular design was enabled by Chris Grantham and Arianne Orillac who lead Circular Economy at IDEO in London who guided the spaceships to consider reiteration of product design onboard using circular economy strategy cards.

After prototypes and definition of spaceship purpose, teams were judged by an all women panel to put their circular innovations forward.

  • Hege Saebjornsen, Country Sustainability Manager, IKEA UK & IE
  • Lynn Maxwell, Sustainability Developer, IKEA UK & IE
  • Emilie Sandberg, Creative Leader, IKEA UK & IE
  • Arianne Orillac, Circular Business Designer, IDEO London

This project is part of the Corporate Challenge 2018 in collaboration with IKEA and IDEO.

Blog written by Delfina Zagarzazu

Iconic London Venue for One Planet MBA Event

20 Fenchurch Street – perhaps better known as the Walkie-Talkie Building – was the venue for the latest showcase event organised by the One Planet MBA on the 28th April.

walkie talkie

The ‘walkie talkie’ building at 20 Fenchurch Street

Business Challenges (and developing the talent to solve them)” was the title of the event – kindly hosted by specialist insurance providers Markel International and aimed at exhibiting the talent on offer from the University of Exeter Business School’s flagship programme.

With representatives from a host of organisations in attendance (including Accenture, PwC, Marks & Spencer, The Fairtrade Foundation, Barclays, IBM, Canon, Flock Associates, WWF and BT) – along with One Planet MBA alumni, current staff and students from the programme – the event showcased the One Planet MBA, its achievements and talent and included a keynote speech from Peter Lacy, Global Managing Director, Accenture Strategy, on the Circular Economy – a topic fundamental to the One Planet MBA.


Arriving at Markel

Peter Lacy gave an address (described as “sensational” by one attendee) outlining his vision of how “…incentives and initiatives are needed to rethink economic structure and encourage circular economy…”, thus negating “wasted capacity and under-utilised assets”.  His lecture was followed by a panel discussion involving Govia Thameslink Railway, Coca-Cola Enterprises and IBM on the value they have got out of engaging with the MBA. Continue reading

Launching the MBA’s Business Insights 2020 Workshops for Business Professionals

The One Planet MBA is all about helping professionals and business leaders reinvent Business Insights 2020themselves and thrive in a world that is increasingly volatile, risky, complex, interconnected, resource-constrained and digital. And it is precisely for that reason that we have partnered with Devon and Cornwall Business Council, the South West’s premier business organisation to launch our forward looking and cutting edge series of Business Insights 2020 workshops specially targeted at business professionals threatened by disruption. Each workshop link with individual modules on the MBA programme, and act as an introduction to the topic.

The series kicked off on Wednesday evening and focused on the theme of business model creation.
Continue reading

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

By Ernesto Altahona
One Planet MBA Student 2014/5


My main motivation for undertaking an MBA was to expand my horizons. I wanted to break the glass ceiling that I had on top of me, and I decided the best way was at Exeter with the One Planet MBA. My decision proved to be right. I can´t demonstrate it now with how much my salary has incremented, or any change of my job because I am still studying. What I can offer is the certainty that something changed inside me, in the best possible way.

I could feel the exact moment the click happened, the Friday that we finished the Entrepreneurship module. And since that moment I have been asking myself this question; what happened? Continue reading

Social Entrepreneurship in Africa

Our One Planet MBA has an extensive guest speakers programme aimed at exposing our students to real life perspectives from those who make business happen. Earlier this year, Miriam Turner from Interface, the company that revolutionised the carpet tiles industry contributed to the discussion around the changing role of business in society while Francis Sullivan of HSBC  discussed the relevance of CSR and whether it involves corporate greenwash. Continue reading