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Power Tools for Collaborative Modelling of Socioeco-Sustainment

Norris, Nicole, Hoveskog, Maya, Ostuzzi, Francesca, Jones, Peter and Upward, Antony (2020) Power Tools for Collaborative Modelling of Socioeco-Sustainment. In: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD9) 2020 Symposium., 9-17 Oct 2020, Ahmedabad, India.

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This workshop is based upon the outcomes of my Masters of Design major project work in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program at OCAD University. This research explored the potential of a human-scaled, systemic design approach to Sustainable Business Model Innovation. It was inspired by my work at Georgian College around the challenges and social innovations to enable societal flourishing in uniquely Canadian, non-urban (regional) contexts. The workshop will allow participants the opportunity to explore the new dialogic design tools and design system developed to do multi-modal modelling with the Flourishing Business Canvas.


Business Models are designed – intentionally and/or by default – by factors that affect the way in which the firm operates in relationship to business’ actors, purpose, place and definition of success over time. The Business Model, when reviewed as a single unit framework is effective in the experimentation of innovation within that firm (Weiller and Neely, 2013) however may or may not identify the interdependencies of business within an ecosystem context (Moore, 1993). Understanding that Business Models have co-relationships to ecosystem innovation and that ecosystems have a co-relationship to Business Model design, firms can no longer self-declare that it can be sustainable without reference to its whole value network (Jones and Upward, 2015)

The Flourishing Business Canvas 2.0 is a systemic, visual modelling artifact that evolved from Antony Upward’s research into Strongly Sustainable enterprise design in 2013. The research was a response to the Osterwalder’s (2009) Business Model Canvas, a widely used model that accounts specifically for a firm’s financial context, placing the business model narrative without contexts in the systems of the environment and society. The adjustments to Osterwater’s canvas, presented in the Flourishing Business Canvas 2.0, calls for the addition of these contexts and challenges the assumption “that designers of business models all have a singular normative goal: the creation of businesses that are financially profitable” (Upward, 2013).

Through my work with social enterprise stakeholders in developing a Canadian context to socio-economic flourishing, I was able to make several thematic usability observations of participants working with the Flourishing Business Canvas v2.0 (Norris and Telfer, 2018). These thematic observations were also highlighted in the research of Maya Hoveskog of Halmstad University and Francesca Ostuzzi of UGent (Ostuzzi and Hoveskog, 2019) conducting educational experiments for teaching ‘flourishing-as-sustainability’.

Specifically, their research highlighted several aspects related to working with the Flourishing Business Canvas v2.0; (1) the graphic design’s limited ability to indicate or reveal connections between various areas of the model; (2) language and clarity of specific titles of the question blocks gave way to difficulties in distinguishing differences; (3) considering all three contexts at the same time – environment, society, economy – and having a holistic perspective is hard for participants to conceptualize. (Ostuzzi and Hoveskog, 2019)

Further to the themes above, I was also able to sit with Jones and Upward, co-creators of ontology for strongly sustainable business models (Jones and Upward, 2016) and the Flourishing Business Canvas v2.0, to review practitioners’ feedback globally. From these discussions, a Research through Design (Zimmerman and Forlizzi, 2007) methodology in conjunction with a rigorous expert review, deconstruction, and heuristic evaluations from the domain of HCI, was used to propose a new design language (based upon Rheinfrank and Evenson, 1996) for the Flourishing Business Canvas and ongoing Flourishing Toolkit project.

Workshop Format

Participants will collaborate in a 3-hour on-line workshop using the Mural Platform (platform provided by the facilitator) and Zoom Breakout rooms. It will use the proposed design language, and new modelling tools developed in the RTD process noted above, to compliment the perspective of different users’ cognitive abilities and modes of inquiry working the Flourishing Business Canvas. This a BETA workshop, that was adapted for collaboration to happen within a virtual context.

Welcome and Overview – 5min
Introduction and overview of the research that produced this workshop. Intentions and overview of the workshop

Introduction to the Flourishing and the Flourishing Business Canvas – 10min
Introduction to the concept of Flourishing, Business Models and the tools we’ll be modelling with during the workshop.

Onboarding into Mural Platform – 15min
Move over to the Mural Platform for a quick tutorial a topic relevant icebreaker exercise to get participants exploring the virtual workshop tools Participants are divided up into modelling teams

Modelling a Socio-Economic Sustainment Scenario – 90 min
Teams will be presented with two scenarios/contexts they can select to model as a Flourishing Business Concept.
Teams will be taken through the Flourishing Business Canvas in a guided facilitation process.
Teams will be divided into Zoom breakout rooms to dialogue while using the tools to model through their discussion on Mural collaboratively.

Debrief and Discussion – 30 min
Each team will present a compelling aspect of what they have modelled, using storytelling to walk us through their Flourishing Business Model concept(s).
Teams will be encouraged to debrief their experiences, interactions and the accessibility of the tools and design systems of the workshop.

Outcomes and Benefits
The key expected benefits to participants are:

Opportunity to design a flourishing business model using an open non-commercial systemic dialogue about social, cultural and environmental interdependencies of businesses within an ecosystem context

Becoming conversant with vocabulary and concepts for creating systemic strong sustainability perspectives.

Peer learning through dialogues that create responses to social sustainability Socioeco-Sustainment challenges

Opportunity to learn and share the Flourishing Business Canvas and new power tools.

Questions to be explored:

How do the tools we use to design and dialogue with matter to understand sustainability-as-flourishing?

What does it mean for a business to flourish and its ability to co-create healthy, vibrant socio-economic and cultural networks?

How might Flourishing firms organize cooperatively in regional energy, transport, and food sustainment?

How might we build value constellations (beyond supply/partner chains) for regional socio-economic sustainment?

When using design tools such as the Flourishing Business Model, how might these tools and their contexts be presented in more accessible ways for local and regional stakeholders?

Item Type: Conference/Workshop Item (Other)
Divisions: Faculty of Design
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 06 May 2022 13:54
Last Modified: 06 May 2022 13:54
URI: https://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/3634

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