Cosmos quickly and carefully assimilated into businesses to study their teams, customers, clients, and partners. We organized that research into the systems driving the business: the actors (people), the workflows (processes), and the priorities (measurable business goals). Then we designed and developed solutions to optimize those workflows. We measured the impact of the solutions and evolved solutions in response to measurements, feedback from actors, and business needs.
Workflow Optimization was a flexible, powerful service that used systems thinking, design thinking, and computer science to identify and solve a wide array of business problems.
The service was successful because it took a systematic approach toward achieving business goals — Cosmos designed software systems and organizational changes to integrate with unique business needs.
Cosmos managed a continuous cycle of research, definition, design, and development to optimize the most critical parts of the businesses we partnered with. Our experience covered a broad range of applications — creating new products, defining technology roadmaps, creating conceptual designs, and incubating technology companies.
All projects received a rigorous implementation of our method, as well as our commitment to transparency and precision. Each project contained some subset of the following phases:
1 to 2 months
3 to 6 months
Cosmos researched and defined the problem space to create a shared language for the organization and Cosmos to communicate. We met with the partner organization to establish consensus on the goals and supporting objectives before creating Roadmap Priorities that drove development.
This phase produced the following standard outputs:
- Actors — the specific people and organizations that make up the systems being researched.
- Roles — the duties that actors have inside the system (e.g. an Airline Pilot is a role that a specific actor can play). Actors can perform many roles, and a role can have many actors.
- Workflows — the discrete processes that actors perform to do work and to interact with other actors and the system.
- Goals and Supporting Objectives — a set of goals and measurable objectives to guide the design, development, and delivery of the system’s product features.
- Roadmap Priorities — prioritized scopes of work representing the rough order of capabilities to be developed in order to deliver the system in the context of the goals.
In Development, Cosmos executed upon the Roadmap Priorities agreed upon in Discovery. We incrementally designed, developed, and delivered features while continuously measuring their impact on the Goals.
This phase produced the following standard outputs:
- Timeline — an accurate forecast for 2-weeks of work activities in each stage of the service. Anything beyond that 2-week horizon becomes murky because our weekly learnings inform our next activities. The historic horizon is always available, with links to the resources that were created.
- Interviews, Research, Designs, Assets — all work assets are always available to partners. They are organized in a shared drive and are linked to from our weekly plans.
- Weekly Plan — each week we produced a weekly work plan with a work horizon (snapshot of the timeline) that indicated our deliveries in the previous week, any changes in the plan, our focus for the current week, and our predictions for the next week. We queued topics for our status call at the top of the plan.
- Weekly Status Call — we reviewed our weekly work plan with partners each week to discuss topics, risks, and progress toward the project’s goals. We recorded notes from the call to document any decisions made or Next Steps assigned.
- Software Products, Features, and Integrations — we continuously shipped software to actors and aimed to have a weekly delivery cadence (as feature scope and complexity allowed). We broke roadmap priorities into the most atomic functional chunks possible so that we could quickly get measurable feedback.
Software and systems are living things — we treated each system as mission critical and maintained them with flexible support agreements.
This phase produced the following standard outputs:
- Triaged Issues and Bug List — we maintained a list of any reported issues and determined if they were bugs (software not functioning as designed).
- Bug Fixes — we fixed bugs.
- Weekly Status Call — Cosmos was available for the weekly status call to discuss any issues that had been reported, triaged, and determined to be (or not to be) bugs, as well as the status of any efforts to resolve bugs, and approval of any time beyond support hours.
- Infrastructure Monitoring — we monitored the infrastructure to ensure that the infrastructure was appropriate for the application’s needs over time.
- Software and Infrastructure Upgrades — software is a living thing, and there are frequent (almost monthly) software patches and upgrades to the many tools, dependencies, and infrastructure components that power and host any application. Delivering these upgrades sometimes meant managing and communicating scheduled outages.
Cosmos worked on many projects over its lifespan, but we chose to highlight the following.
Partner | Gold Standard
Cosmos partnered with Gold Standard for over 5 years to design and develop technology and systems to digitize, optimize, and scale the impact of their sustainability ecosystem.
Project | Registry Suite
In 2018, Gold Standard gave Cosmos a 5-month deadline to develop a bespoke, public-facing system to serve as a source of truth for all of their certified impacts. This Impact Registry needed to register thousands of impact projects, issue hundreds of millions of carbon credits, and support the inventorying and transferring of credits between thousands of actors. Cosmos rapidly integrated into their business, studied their existing systems, and delivered Gold Standard’s new public Impact Registry.
Today, thousands of project developers, account holders, governments, and global corporations transact credits on the Registry. Along with the public, they use it as a source of truth for sustainability industry’s highest quality projects and credits.
Project | Marketplace and Direct Retirement
Cosmos designed and developed a new Marketplace that enabled consumers and businesses to purchase and retire Gold Standard credits. The Marketplace featured deep integration into the Registry (for immediate retirement) and into Gold Standard’s financial systems (for immediate accounting).
Cosmos then designed and developed an API Toolkit for third party partners to build their own applications that use Gold Standard credits. The third-party applications enable the integration, purchase, and retirement of credits, which has greatly increased demand.
Project | Global Ecosystem Integrations
Cosmos met with the world’s top sustainability actors to understand how they use voluntary market credits and how they want to transact with them. We learned about a diverse range of needs, from public exchanges, private corporations, governments, other registries, and even decentralized blockchains. We synthesized our understanding into a Roadmap for extending the registry to support these transactions.
Project | GSIQ
In 2021 as Gold Standard looked at the challenges and exciting future of their exponentially growing market, Cosmos collaborated with their executive team to distill and craft their vision into a high-level technology roadmap.
Project | Certification System for Assurance Platform
In 2022 Cosmos studied Gold Standard’s vast certification standards and methodologies, then collaborated with their Assurance team to define their certification system using roles, actors, workflows, and data types. The precise definition of this system enabled them to develop APIs and workflow automation systems to optimize their certification practice.
Partner | SustainCERT
Cosmos partnered with SustainCERT over several years to optimize their certification teams, solve challenging technical problems, and provide a technology roadmap.
Project | Certification System
When Gold Standard released its new Impact Registry in 2019, it required significant changes to SustainCERT’s existing certification technology in order to integrate. Cosmos took over SustainCERT’s certification systems with the clear goal of increasing operational leverage. Over the next 3 years we built and optimized systems that enabled SustainCERT’s certification throughput to double, all without requiring them to increase the size of their certification team.
Project | Emission Factor Tracking System
In 2020, methodologies for certifying the emissions of corporate value chains and supply chains were emerging from standards organizations and governments. Significant complexity arose from how to account for Scope 3 emissions, or indirect emissions including those from a company’s supply chain.
We partnered with SustainCERT and with corporates like Danon, Mars, General Mills, and Nike to design and validate a system to incentivize corporations to invest in reducing the carbon footprint of their value chains. At the core of the system were Emission Factors, with specifications on how changes to emissions could be unitized, tracked, and shared across entities.
In short, the system enabled the definition of certifiable impact chains within and across corporations to mitigate the double counting of Scope 3 emissions and to prevent corporations from claiming the benefits of emission reduction projects that they were not involved in.
Project | Technology Roadmap
Cosmos worked with SustainCERT to craft a Technology Roadmap that helped them secure their Series A capital raise.
Partner | Invisible Universe
Invisible Universe is an internet-first animation studio that incubates characters on social media and then expands them into film and tv, publishing, games, merchandising and licensing, music, and more.
Cosmos partnered with Invisible for over 3 years to build systems that integrated their global team of creative talent: creative directors, artists, writers, animators, lighters, renderers, social media managers, celebrities, talent managers, and more.
Cosmos reduced their animation, social media, and celebrity management processes into workflows, then designed and developed custom software to enable their collaboration.
Partner | Swedish Energy Agency
In 2021, ahead of the impending Article 6 amendment to the Paris Agreement, the Swedish Energy Agency (SEA) was looking to understand how the amendment would affect registries. The major change was that Article 6 applied more rigorous guidelines for classifying Internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs) that nations can trade to achieve their emissions targets.
Cosmos collaborated with INFRAS to design a prototype registry that encoded these rules and classifications. This work also included guidance around emerging technologies such as blockchain and how they would integrate into the registry. At the time of research, Cosmos advised against using blockchains because they offered little value and many drawbacks when compared to traditional solutions.
Partner | AC Momento
When the founder of AC Momento had his first vision for the company, he reached out to Cosmos to incubate it from an idea into a thriving business. We partnered with him to build out the team, processes, and initial product. Cosmos’s Language and Method were imbued into the core of the organization and helped them get to where they are today.
We value written thought as a way to share information between people, to communicate through time and space, and to crystallize one’s own understanding of a subject. Here are some of our thoughts:
2022 | Brief | Introduction to Carbon Credit Markets
In 2022 we wrote a brief to introduce the concept of carbon credit markets to people who are new to the industry.
The world is in the midst of a climate emergency. The global community has a responsibility to take action toward reducing emissions, otherwise we will continue to experience the worsening negative effects through extreme weather, economic damage, and natural disasters. The drastic emissions-reductions required to meet climate goals cannot happen overnight. Countries and organizations are enacting plans to focus on long-term carbon reductions, but it’s equally necessary to invest in immediate solutions.
Carbon markets offer a clever solution by enabling immediate action toward a long-term goal. Through the facilitation of carbon credits, carbon markets incentivize individuals, corporations, and governments to participate in reducing emissions by contributing to emissions-reductions projects across the world.
In 2021, voluntary carbon markets surpassed $1B for the first time, and they are projected to reach $100B+ by 2030. As market demand surges and the pressure to combat climate change heightens, Cosmos envisions significant changes ahead.
From the formation, and governance of carbon markets, to their value, growth, and response to controversies, read on for more in our Introduction to Carbon Credit Markets.