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  • 1.
    Gould, Rachael
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Integrating sustainability into concept selection decision-making2015Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The audience for this research is fellow researchers and others helping product developers to start including sustainability when they are selecting product concepts.

    The aims of the research were to understand the needs of product developers integrating sustainability into concept selection and what might be done to help them.

    The research approach was to iterate between the three studies of design research methodology. The first study focused on understanding the challenges that product developers face when integrating sustainability into concept selection. The aim of the second study was to identify potential support to help product developers to deal with the challenges.  And the third study was to try out the potential support to see if it actually helps product developers address the challenges they face. These studies were executed through reviewing literature and exploring two cases.

    The results led to a focus on supporting the decision-making process and supporting analysing with  respect to social sustainability.  Selecting concepts is a complex decision made under challenging conditions. Bringing in the complex, new and unfamiliar aspects of sustainability can make good decision-making even more challenging. When integrating sustainability, two particular barriers to good concept selection decision-making are errors due to illusory correlation and confirmation bias.

    Despite the challenges, how good you are at making decisions matters. And a good decision-making process drives good decisions. This is especially relevant when bringing in complex and unfamiliar aspects, such as sustainability.  A likely candidate for helping product developers achieve a good decision-making process when integrating sustainability is active, value-focused decision-support. In other words, structuring the process into bite-sized steps and using particular techniques to avoid bias. At each step, decision-makers’ focus is anchored by the things that stakeholders value as important.   Further research is required to investigate the details of how to employ these process-support approaches in the particular context of integrating sustainability into concept selection decision-making.

    In addition to a process, complicated selection decisions demand analysis. Support for analysing concepts with respect to social sustainability was identified as a gap. We explored a potential approach that might contribute to this analysis, but found that it was not useful for the particular decision in hand.  This opened up some interesting questions for further research.

  • 2.
    Gould, Rachael
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    The individual human side of supporting sustainable design beginners2018Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Starting to include sustainability considerations in a design project is a transition requiring a change in how things are done, that is, a change in behaviour. Furthermore, this transition takes place in the midst of the usual pressures of product design. Prior research on sustainable design has mostly explored the so-called technical side – identifying what tasks should be performed, such as specifics of including sustainability criteria when analysing product concepts. However, this has not been enough. These tasks are not being performed to the extent that they could, or that is needed. Recent studies have advocated the consideration of the human nature of the people who are to execute these ‘technical’ tasks. In other words, there is a need to work with the socio-psychological factors in order to help sustainable design beginners to adopt new mindsets and practice (their usual way of doing design).

    My aim was therefore to investigate how to support individual product design team members with the human aspects of transitioning to executing sustainable design. In particular, I focused on supporting good individual decision-making and individual behaviour change. This aim was addressed through multiple research projects with four partner companies working with the early phases of product design. Given a focus to change practice, I followed an action research approach with a particular emphasis on theory building. This action research approach comprised two phases: understanding the challenge and context, and then iteratively developing solutions through a theorise–design-act-observe-reflect cycle.

    Through the research projects, my colleagues and I found that there are challenges related to behaviour change and decision-making that are hindering execution of sustainable design. In order to help organisations to overcome or avoid these challenges, we found that it may be beneficial for those developing sustainable design tools and methods to (i) use techniques to mitigate for cognitive illusions, (ii) provide individuals with the opportunity to implement sustainable design while helping those individuals to increase their motivation and capability to execute sustainable design, and (iii) communicate with these individuals in such a way as to avoid triggering psychological barriers (self-defence mechanisms). I combined these points into two models.

    Together with the partner organisations, we applied the two models to design some actions that we then tested. The actions included integrating behaviour change and decision-making considerations into sustainable design tools as well as stand-alone interventions in the culture.

    Given the findings of these studies, I urge developers of sustainable design tools to see implementation of their tool as a learning journey. The beginning of the journey should comprise small steps supported by handrails, which then increase in size and decrease in support as the journey continues. Especially in the beginning, tool developers will also need to help travellers to avoid the decision-making errors that occur due to being in unfamiliar territory.

     

  • 3.
    Gould, Rachael
    et al.
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Bratt, Cecilia
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Svensson, Martin
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Industrial Economics.
    Broman, Göran
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Shrinking and scaffolding: supporting behaviour change towards implementing sustainable design2018In: Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    To start to include sustainability in a design project is a transition. This transition requires change in how people do things, that is, behaviour change, and it takes place in the midst of the usual pressures of product design. Prior research on sustainable design has mostly explored the so-called technical side – identifying what tasks should be performed, such as specifics of including sustainability criteria when analysing product concepts. Recent studies have advocated the consideration of the human nature of the people who are to implement these ‘technical’ tasks, to undergo and drive the transition.

    We therefore embarked on an action research project to support behaviour change towards implementing sustainable design in the individual members of design project teams. Our action research partner was a design consultancy who wanted to begin working with sustainable design. Our research question was: How might the partner organisation support individual behaviour change towards implementing sustainable design?

    Firstly, we identified some barriers to behaviour change; these barriers were related to motivation, capability and opportunity to apply sustainable design. Secondly, to investigate how to address the barriers and support individual behaviour change, we integrated concepts on behaviour change, motivation, learning for sustainability and climate communication to form a conceptual system (a theoretical model). In parallel, we undertook a participatory action research project with the consultancy, where we iteratively and collaboratively employed our model to develop ideas for specific actions that the organisation could take. We also tried out some of these actions and observed the outcomes.

    We learnt that it is important to not just define what ‘technical’ tasks project teams should ideally perform, but to also scaffold the journey as a series of simpler steps. Shrinking the ‘technical’ tasks into meaningful steps that are within reach helps individuals to feel confident and competent, which in turn leads to increased intrinsic motivation and behaviour change. Progressively achieving small steps aligned with their values reduces the risk of dissonance and denial, and therefore increases the potential for action.

    In this article, we present our model and our learnings.

  • 4.
    Gould, Rachael K
    et al.
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development. Blekinge Institute of Technology.
    Bratt, Cecilia
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Lagun Mesquita, Patricia
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Broman, Göran
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Integrating sustainable development and design-thinking-based product design2017Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this research was to integrate sustainable development and design-thinking-based product design in order that the product design then contributes to society’s transition to a sustainable future. This is an important pursuit since product lifecycles are a major cause of society’s current sustainability challenges. To address this, many authors argue for integrating sustainable development into existing design processes rather than developing stand-alone tools and methods.Through action research with a design consultancy who wanted to start working with sustainable product design, we iterated between three stages: understanding needs, designing action, and trying out the action. The first stage comprised document analysis, focus-group style workshops, a survey and interviews. When designing the actions (enhancements to their design-thinking-based process), we drew on literature on sustainable product design, decision-making for sustainability, and organisational learning and change for sustainability. We also drew on our research partners’ practical experience. The enhanced process was tried out and further developed through feedback, student testing and co-development meetings.The result is an enhanced process where project teams (i) use the outcomes from the inspiration phase of the existing process to choose sustainable design strategies that are relevant for their particular project. Once the teams have chosen which strategies to work with, for example, design for remanufacture, we suggest that they (ii) use the strategies to develop ideation foci/questions that help them explore the design space. The third enhancement is for teams to (iii) compare concepts with respect to sustainability as part of their concept comparison and evaluation.

  • 5.
    Gould, Rachael
    et al.
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Lagun Mesquita, Patricia
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Bratt, Cecilia
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Broman, Göran
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Why choose one sustainable design strategy over another: A decision-support prototype2017In: DS87-5 PROCEEDINGS OF THE 21ST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ENGINEERING DESIGN (ICED 17), VOL 5: DESIGN FOR X, DESIGN TO X / [ed] Van der Loos M.,Salustri F.,Oehmen J.,Fadel G.,Kokkolaras M.,Maier A.M.,Skec S.,Kim H., The Design Society, 2017, Vol. 5, p. 111-120, article id DS87-5Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Sustainable design strategies provide tangible ways for integrating sustainability into early phaseproduct design work. Examples include design for remanufacturing and design for the base of thepyramid. There are many such strategies and it is difficult to choose between them. Sustainable productdesign activities also need to be tailored to business priorities. We therefore designed a decision-supportprototype to aid project teams to choose strategies based on relevance to the project in terms of bothbusiness and sustainability value. To design the prototype, we first identified potential strategies fromsustainable product development literature. We then used literature on each of six selected strategies toidentify potential business and sustainability benefits. We developed a way to compare sustainabilityvalue based on a scientifically established definition of sustainability and a lifecycle perspective. Theprototype is designed to be usable by practitioners who are not necessarily sustainable design experts.The prototype was created to enable future work to test ways to integrate the selection of sustainabledesign strategies into the early phases of product design.

  • 6.
    Gould, Rachael
    et al.
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Missimer, Merlina
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Lagun Mesquita, Patricia
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Using social sustainability principles to analyse activities of the extraction lifecycle phase: Learnings from designing support for concept selection2017In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 140, no 1, p. 267-276Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Analysing product concepts with respect to social sustainability is a contemporary challenge for which there is little support available for product developers. Our aim was to build on previous work to support product developers in a case company with this challenge. We designed a first prototype of support for product developers to use a previously developed definition when analysing the extraction lifecycle activities associated with their product concepts. The prototype instructs users to model the location of the extraction activities and then use existing databases and indicators to analyse the social sustainability performance of each location. The databases and indicators were selected according to their relevance to scientific principles for social sustainability. We then performed initial evaluation of the support, through which we learnt that the approach may make it possible for product developers to analyse extraction activities, but the level of accuracy of analysis that is possible is not good enough for comparing the concepts in the case study decision. We discuss the implications of these challenges and suggest that it may be better to re-design our approach in order to provide learningful support for product developers or support for other decision-making in the company.

  • 7.
    Gould, Rachael
    et al.
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Svensson, Martin
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Industrial Economics.
    Sustainable product development and tricks on the mind: Formulating conceptual models of cognitive illusions and mitigating actions2018In: Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Similar to visual illusions playing tricks on your eyes, cognitive illusions cause you to misjudge reality and therefore potentially make biased decisions. You are especially vulnerable when starting to introduce sustainability into concept development decision-making since this setting offers unfamiliarity, and complexity. Given a shortage of theories regarding which cognitive illusions product developers are susceptible to, we formulated a conceptual model. This model is based on the decision-making tasks that product developers undertake when they are developing concepts and the conditions that they experience when integrating sustainability into this decision-making. From decision-making literature, we identified the following cognitive illusions as occurring when undertaking those tasks under those conditions: availability, anchoring and confirmation bias when generating ideas; illusory correlation and validity effect when selecting between ideas; evaluability bias and status quo bias when gate reviewing. Based on the model, we synthesised literature on how to mitigate for the identified illusions and organised this synthesis according to when (during which task type) a product developer should perform the mitigating actions. These mitigating actions vary according to task type and focus on the quality of the decision-making process.

  • 8.
    Gould, Rachael
    et al.
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Thompson, Anthony
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    A method for comparing concepts with respect to sustainability and other values2014Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Selecting concepts involves challenging decisions because decision-makers must consider many factors and the implications of the selection are far-reaching and unknown. As markets become increasingly sustainability-driven, bringing sustainability considerations into the decision is necessary. This is challenging due to the complexity of the concept of sustainability and it being unfamiliar to many decision-makers. In this work we therefore aimed to develop support for helping decision-makers to consider sustainability when selecting a concept. We undertook a case study where we studied decision-makers selecting a road construction process. Then we developed a method of support to help these decision-makers to select a process. The developed method helps decision-makers consider sustainability aspects when selecting concepts. The method supports decision-makers to compare alternatives by using indicators that are based on the values of actors in the extended value network. Global society is included as an actor who values development that is more sustainable. We modelled and visualised the outputs from the developed method in order to support decision-makers in the case study with their specific decision. Early indications from our testing are that the method and general approach could be useful for decision-makers wanting to consider sustainability in concept selection.

  • 9.
    Svensson, Martin
    et al.
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Industrial Economics.
    Gould, Rachael
    Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
    Hurdles to Clear: Cognitive Barriers in Sustainable Product Development2015Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Product development is a phased decision making process that is difficult to manage, for example, due to lack of knowledge in the early phases when design freedom is high. The management becomes even more challenging when adding the new, complex and potentially long range considerations of sustainability to decision making in product development.

    More explicitly, the management challenge is manifested in that product developers initially know little about the design problem, which is when they have highest design freedom. Later, when the product developers have acquired more knowledge about the design problem, design freedom has diminished. In sum, this paradox illustrates two challenging situations in which product developers undertake decision-making – low knowledge and high freedom, and higher knowledge and lower freedom. With the addition of time pressure, these challenging decision making situations lead product developers to become susceptible to relying on heuristics, and prone to systematic errors and biases.

    In our study, we aim to outline and understand which cognitive shortcomings are involved and create potential problems in development of more sustainable products. We do so by asking the question ‘Which cognitive barriers are most relevant when incorporating sustainability considerations into product development?’ Out of four identified categories of product development decisions - concept development, supply chain design, product design, and production ramp-up and launch – we focus on the first three as they are categories of decisions where product developers may try to incorporate sustainability. To address this question, we used the rich psychology literature on cognitive shortcomings to identify which barriers are particularly relevant in the decision-making context described by the literature on product development and decision-making for sustainability.

    We contribute to the practice of people developing decision support for sustainable product development by increasing awareness of cognitive barriers that are particularly relevant in this context. Theoretically, we contribute with increased understanding regarding how different cognitive barriers may be influential under certain phases, and not under others – a matter which underpins a forthcoming discussion on how clusters of cognitive shortcomings may affect outcomes of including sustainability in the product development process.

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