Across the four discussion streams, a total of 3,900 posts were made over the 24 hours. Consumer behavior change was the most active discussion theme, generating the most comments overall.
When we look in detail at discussion across the topics during the whole 24 hours, some clear cross-cutting themes emerge:
- ‘Whole system’ approaches: participants in the Lab steered toward addressing challenges at the system, rather than issue, level.
- Products to services: from ownership to shared access and from packaging to refills, the notion of rethinking delivery models came up in both the Consumer Behaviour Change and Recycling and Waste discussions.
- Collaboration: moderators and observers of the Lab noted that collaboration ran through many of the discussions across all four streams.
The strongest indicator of enthusiasm for collaboration came in our follow-up survey. Of more than 400 people who responded, 95 percent said they would participate in a future Sustainable Living Lab.
So, following this marathon 24 hour conversation, what are the lessons to be learned about engaging with stakeholders? We have identified four key factors that ensure that stakeholder engagement and consultation goes beyond a traditional sharing of views.
The first factor is the opportunity for collective deliberation. The Lab was designed to be interactive and inclusive, an iterative conversation developing from a starter question. At times the conversation became challenging to follow, with ‘fast-paced’ dialogue across several strands. This is something we’ll address in future Labs.
The second factor is mobilisation toward a common purpose. In convening the Lab, Unilever’s stated aim was to ‘make more progress on the big sustainability challenges’ – a purpose shared by those invited to participate and many more beyond.
Next page: Developing partnerships, getting commitment and taking action