Using ideas honed in the private sector, social entrepreneurs like those at IDEO are finding ways to overcome challenges faced by nonprofit organizations working in the developing world. Their human-centered approach to social innovation has been turned into a guide that’s available for free to anyone interested in creating transformative change where they work and live.
Funded by the International Development Enterprise (IDE), the Human-Centered Design (HCD) Toolkit was created to help social enterprises and NGOs working in impoverished nations by providing practical guidance for achieving success.
So what is human-centered design? Starting with the people for whom products, services, processes, and strategies are being developed, the human-centered approach always keeps the human factor in mind in order to produce actionable, transformative change. They use three lenses in the human-centered design approach:
- Desirability: Examine stakeholder needs to find out what they really require or design.
- Feasibility: What solutions can be used to overcome challenges that are technically and organizationally feasible?
- Viability: What approaches will be financially viable?
To give you a bit more insight into how their approach works, here’s the three phases used in the human-centered design:
1) Hearing the needs of the stakeholders. This involves listening to peoples’ stories, observing the reality faced by the constituents, and seeking a deeper understanding of the needs, barriers, and constraints they face. There are several steps in this phase, including:
- Identifying a design challenge
- Recognizing existing knowledge
- Identifying people with whom to speak
- Choosing research methods, such as group interviews, in-context immersion, self-documentation, community-driven discovery, expert interviews
- Developing an interview approach
- Developing a mindset (beginner’s mind or observe versus interpret)
2) Creating innovative solutions to meet their needs. During this phase, there is synthesis of research and interpretation as well, in order to narrow, cull, and translate your insights into a set of opportunities. The goal is to make sense of the data, identify patterns, define opportunities, and create solutions.
- Develop the approach, such as participatory co-design or empathetic design
- Share stories
- Identify patterns
- Create opportunity areas
- Brainstorm new solutions
- Make ideals real by prototyping
- Gather feedback
3) Delivering solutions with financial stability in mind. This involves identifying required capabilities, creating a model for financial stability and an innovation pipeline, planning pilots, and measuring impact.
- Develop a sustainable revenue model
- Identify capabilities required for delivering solutions
- Plan a pipeline of solutions
- Create an implementation timeline
- Plan mini-pilots and iteration
- Create a learning plan
The toolkit is an extremely useful resource for any aspiring social entrepreneur used by groups like the Acumen Fund, Heifer International, Micro Drip, and VisionSpring. Check it out and tell us what you think.