People's Newsroom

Circular Buy-In

Map your stakeholders, understand their perspectives, and create narratives to help them feel invested in your cause.

In order to get your product or service to market, you’ll need to identify key stakeholders (from investors, employees, internal stakeholders, and design teams) and make plans to get them excited by your potential project. You will also need to develop strategies for how you involve these stakeholders throughout the project, from co-creation to keeping them engaged.


Map your stakeholders for your initiative using the template provided. You might want to make two different ones – for internal stakeholders (within your company or project or start-up) and one for external stakeholders (those with who you might need to partner as part of any potential business idea).2

Take your stakeholders one by one and consider each of their perspectives using the following questions:

  • What matters to them most?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • How do they problem solve?
  • Who else do they have around them that might support your idea?

Building off these perspectives, develop a narrative/conversation starter for each person. Notably, they might be very different from one person to another. What matters to them the most?

Once you have your narrative in place, ask yourself – Is there also the possibility of showing an early prototype to gain their interest? This could even be a simple sketch.

Start the conversation using these questions if helpful

  • Can you think of ways to build on this?
  • How could we work together?
  • What else do you need to know?
  • How might we show proof of concept quickly and at minimal cost, to mitigate risk?

Circular Brainstorming

Concept creation is all about going broad, generating lots of ideas, and then narrowing down into what feels relevant to the challenge at hand. Initially, it’s important to keep an open mind without judgment and apply a critical lens only after you have gone broad. Start by getting your core team together. Brainstorms are most effective when you have a group of people and are able to build on each other’s ideas.

questions to get you started:

  • How might we make our product or service more modular/adaptable?
  • How might our product be inspired by living systems?
  • How might we turn our product offering into a service?
  • How might our product be refurbished over time?

Once everyone has sketched out a variety of ideas. Put them all up on a board. Use something like post-its or stickers to vote on the ones you are the most excited about. What do people gravitate towards? 

Brainstorm Rules

  • Defer judgement. You never know where a good idea is going to come from. The key is make everyone feel like they can say the idea on their mind and allow others to build on it.
  • Encourage wild ideas. Wild ideas can often give rise to creative leaps. In thinking about ideas that are wacky or out there we tend to think about what we really want without the constraints of technology or materials.
  • Build on the ideas of others. Being positive and building on the ideas of others take some skill. In conversation, we try to use “and” instead of “but.
  • ”Stay focused on the topic. Try to keep the discussion on target, otherwise you can diverge beyond the scope of what you’re trying to design for.
  • One conversation at a time. Your team is far more likely to build on an idea and make a creative leap if everyone is paying full attention to whoever is sharing a new idea.
  • Be visual. In live brainstorms we write down on Post-its and then put them on a wall. Nothing gets an idea across faster than drawing it. Doesn’t matter if you’re not Rembrandt!
  • Go for quantity. Aim for as many new ideas as possible. In a good session, up to 100 ideas are generated in 60 minutes. Crank the ideas out quickly and build on the best ones.

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