Unit 4 Plan

The objective of this phase is to translate all the data gathered from previous analysis into an integrated plan, starting from a vision, key objectives and an associated roadmap.

Guiding questions:

  • Do we have a strategic plan that is tailored to the activities of the circular economy?
  • Do we have ideas for circular economy activities and have you set priorities for implementing them?
  • Which concrete steps need to be taken to set the ball rolling?
  • Where can I find solutions?
  • Where can I find the right partners?
  • How can data innovation and the Internet or Things leverage my product or service?
  • Is my business model suited to the circular economy? Where are the possible business cases for my company?

Vision is about the future and a hopefully better world. It is the essence of what you hope to achieve and forms the beginning of your strategy. For example, one vision would be to be a “carbon positive hotel in 2030”,  “the most circular tour operator in Europe”. Vision is not a statement that you define once and then forget about. It should be revisited on a yearly basis. And it should not be overly complex or difficult to parse — everyone in the company needs to know and deeply understand it.

In order to frame your visioning exercise, a backcasting exercise can be helpful. Backcasting is a strategic planning method that asks a team to create ideal future scenarios and then work backwards as a group to figure out what is needed to get to the ideal states from the current state.

The following steps are:

  • Define one or more possible (and successful) future states based on sustainable and circular principles, applied to your organization, i.e., “Our hotels are working with 100% renewable energy” or “We have zero waste in our restaurant”.
  • Describe the current state of the problem: unsustainability of current operations, reduced profits, disruption in the market, etc.
  • Consider each future state and work backwards to identify actions, assumptions, risks, benefits, and other indicators that could lead to these future states.

have a look at this video, summarizing Backcasting

Once your vision has been developed, you will need to set up a strategy and clarify your objectives. Strategy defines the direction you will take to achieve your vision. Strategy aligns the entire organization around what you want to accomplish and serves as a guide for how to turn the vision into reality. It lays out your goals and the key initiatives to be successful.

Step 1 Clarify objectives

Objectives refer to specific measurable results for the initiative’s broad goals. An organization’s objectives generally lay out how much of what will be accomplished by when. For example, one of several objectives for a Tour Operator to become 100% circular might be: “By 2025 (by when), to increase by 50% (how much) the number of certified destinations in our catalogue (of what).”

Step 2 Form strategic directions

The next step in the process is developing your strategies. Strategies explain how the initiative will reach its objectives. Generally, organizations will have a wide variety of strategies that include people from all of the different functions of the organization. These strategies range from the very broad, which encompass people and resources internally and externally, to the very specific, which aim at carefully defined areas. Examples of broad strategies include:

  • Retrofit your facilities to become energy neutral.
  • Use social media to highlight or circularity credentials and attract green customers
  • Create a close loop system between your green space and the kitchen of your restaurant to become 100% food resilient.



A roadmap is a visualization of your strategic plan. It captures activities you will complete within a given time frame. It communicates upcoming work in one view. You can use a roadmap to drive conversations. It can be your guide for prioritizing work, allocating resources, and tracking dependencies.

There is an inspirational adage that says, “People don’t plan to fail. Instead they fail to plan.” Because you certainly don’t want to fail, it makes sense to take all of the steps necessary to ensure success, including developing an action plan. There are lots of good reasons to work out the details of your organization’s work in an action plan, including:

  • To lend credibility to your organization. An action plan shows internal and external stakeholders that your organization is well ordered and dedicated to getting things done.
  • To be sure you don’t overlook any of the details;
  • To understand what is and isn’t possible for your organization to do;
  • For efficiency: To save time, energy, and resources in the long run;
  • For accountability: To increase the chances that people will do what needs to be done.

Download the following templates: to start working on your action plan and circular actions



The previous activities have set the ground and defined visions and objectives for your circular transition. In order to fill up your action plan, you will now need to dive into circular actions that can help reach your objectives. Brainstorms are most effective when you have a group of people and are able to build on each other’s ideas.

Source: https://unsplash.com/s/photos/brainstorm

Download the template below, sketch out ideas that come to mind as you brainstorm. Go for quantity. This isn’t the time to second guess your ideas. Just get them out there and keep going! 

Using this template you can start prioritizing your best solutions.

Some of your circular actions may be very specific and related to some of your process (i.e., implementation of solar panels).

Other ideas however may require you to completely transform your business model, or develop a side project of a larger scope. If this is the case, you might need to organise this strategy in a coherent format and develop a new business model.

In module 4, we’ll spend some time explaining you all about business models and circular business models!

Source: unsplash.com

To monitor the process of sustainability and circularity and to improve the planning process there is a need to set up key performance indicators that help to evaluate and coordinate your transition journey.

Developing a set of sustainability indicators is a difficult task, because subjectivity is inevitably introduced at each step, from the selection of indicators to their interpretation.

KPIs are critical for performance management: What gets measured gets managed.

✔KPIs support and influence business objectives: They keep objectives at the forefront of decision making

✔KPIs foster personal growth: When you track KPIs you are able to ask what, why, how and when, etc. and do so whenever. This makes learning from successes and failures a daily activity.

✔KPIs strengthen employee morale: They tell your employees that their hard work is paying off.

✔KPIs allow you to walk the talk: You are able to communicate on your journey by clearly showing your performance and progress.

What areas to monitor?

Specific areas will have to be monitored, no matter the type of services you are offering. From an environmental perspective, these generally include:

  • Energy use;
  • Use of renewables;
  • Water consumption;
  • Sparing use of natural resources;
  • Waste reduction;
  • Improved and intensified recycling and reuse of waste;
  • Purification of waste water;
  • Encouragement towards recycling and reuse of all materials;
  • Usage of environmentally friendly materials and products;
  • Enhancement of environmental awareness of staff and customers.