My design process is driven by a desire to listen to communities needs and desires, and to empower them to create sustainable solutions.
Establishing Relationships and Framing
My core goal is to be able to solve problems from the perspective of those facing the problem. Before working on a problem from the target audience’s lens,
I spend time identifying and establishing relationships with key stakeholders of the community and building partnerships with community-based organizations.
I try to understand what success means to community partners.
I also try to learn from others who have tackled similar problems in the past. (Secondary Research)
And at the end of this phase, I try to define project goals, timeline and overall questions that I need to find answers to.
This stage involves:
Identifying all the stakeholders in the problem, and seeing the problem at a systemic level to get a 360-degree understanding.
Listening, observing and creating tools to help uncover the underlying mindsets that cause the problem.
I try to get context, and understand the problem’s background.
At this stage, I end up with a whole bunch of research, important quotes from multiple perspectives, and important but ignored facts.
Now it’s time to make sense of ALL the information gathered. This is one of my favourite parts of the process!
I see patterns in the information, bucket them, make connections, juxtapose information and create core insights from all the research materials.
At this stage, I also try to build alignment between the different stakeholders so as to use a similar language, and get an understanding of the what and why of the problem.
I map the insights along with the entities involved, relationships between them and their attributes. I try to get feedback from different stakeholders to check my understanding.
I identify various opportunity areas and then get the community’s votes to prioritize and define one area that they want to co-create with me.
Often (not always), I conduct another round of research and synthesis, to respond to people’s needs by creating guiding principles for the prototype.And other times I like to jump into concepting.
After creating the guiding principles for the prototype, I facilitate co-creation workshops to generate ideas with stakeholders on potential interventions.
I group the community’s ideas, bucket them and come up with a few different concepts.
Based on feasibility, desirability and viability, I ask the community to vote on their most-liked concepts.
Prototyping & Testing
On the concepts chosen by the community, I create and continuously refine solutions for sustainability with people through feedback, assumption testing and bias removal.
The rule is to fail fast and cheap!
Based on the success criteria determined by the community, I create the lowest fidelity versions of the intervention called a prototype and test plans to determine the success.
I then use different formats (one on one interviews/ surveys/ observation) to get feedback from the community on the prototype. Using an iterative process of feedback, building and testing, I identify the design elements to work on.
I brainstorm with the community and find different solutions for the same. I create new versions of the prototype and repeat the cycle till I find an intervention.
I finally have the intervention! Now the focus is on creating a sustainable impact.
Sustainability: How do I build the communities’ capacity to ensure that the intervention can exist without my presence.
Impact: Am I meeting the goals I had set with the community?