What We’re Learning: Human Centered Design Course

Here at the Scale x Design Accelerator, we are big believers in human centered design and design thinking. In fact, one of our core Labs (formerly called simply Human Centered Design and now re-born as Mindsets and Methods for Innovation) is centered around the subjects. However, you don’t have to be an Accelerator finalist to unlock these critical skills and mindsets!

IDEO.org is currently offering two free courses through +Acumen: A 7-week Introduction to Human Centered Design and a 4-week Prototyping course. Click on the links for more information and act quickly! Registration closes soon – “In partnership with Plus Acumen, IDEO.org offers this course for individuals looking to learn more about the human-centered design process. Both courses opened on May 9, 2017, but they are still open for registration so don’t miss out on this opportunity. ”

What we’re listening to: USAID’s 2nd Episode of the Learning Lab Podcast asks us to “Stop, Collaborate and Listen”

In their second podcast, the USAID Learning Lab team focuses on the “C” in USAID’s Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) Framework. Good collaboration can be difficult to visualize and is often misinterpreted as an impediment to progress and decision making. The Learning Lab does a great job here demonstrating why collaboration and good collaboration-nurturing techniques (including human-centered design), can elevate all aspects of your work!

Utilizing case studies, they highlight Search for Common Ground and their use of human-centered design in workshop facilitation, Grassroots Soccer using “digital storytelling to build bridges between women in South Africa” and USAID’s own collaborative process among stakeholders in Guatemala. Plus listen till the end to learn why Jazz music is the perfect example of collaboration.

Scale X Design Media Roundup

Over the past couple of months Scale X Design has been featured in a number of news articles and blogs! Find summaries of some below as well as links where you can read the full source material. Happy reading!

Shark Tank Meets Teach a Man to Fish on Inc.

CARE has evolved into one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations delivering both aid and lasting change in the most vulnerable communities on the planet. CARE is now using an innovative program called Scale X Design, as a catalyst and platform to multiply impact of groups that innovate to help lift people out of poverty. The organization is providing funding to social entrepreneurship programs. 15 teams from around the CARE world pitched to a panel of judges and each poverty-fighting project got a chance to explain why their approaches should be scaled up with the help of CARE’s global resources. They innovators hail from India, Bangladesh, Malawi, Sri Lanka, Ecuador and elsewhere and support female entrepreneurship, job training and fair pay initiatives. From Tanzania, Chomoka aims to take traditional village savings and loans groups and bring them into the digital age with a user-friendly mobile application. From India, CARE’s Inclusive Dairy Value Chains model enables women to become entrepreneurs in all aspects of the dairy business. From Sri Lanka, A Different Cup of Tea addresses social and economic injustices for workers while increasing productivity and reducing costs for tea companies. Read the full article here.

Nonprofit CARE Takes Hint from Startups with New Accelerator on WABE/NPR

The Atlanta-based global humanitarian aid group, CARE gave their staff an opportunity to pitch their ideas in Atlanta and New York as part of its inaugural Scale X Design Accelerator to get $150,000 in funding to implement their ideas. There are many ideas on how to effectively fight poverty and achieve social justice but it often takes years to bring these ideas to scale. CARE’s Village Savings and Loan Associations program is a great example but it took about 25 years to achieve 19 million users. CARE is now one of the first large global humanitarian aid groups to create a customized accelerator program to push through quick ideas, just like startups. For its first Scale X Design Accelerator program, CARE received 73 applications from staff members in 35 different countries, which were narrowed to 15 teams. They participated in an eight-month program and pitched their ideas in Atlanta and New York for more funding. Congratulations to the winners: The Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST) from Tanzania, Krishi Utsho from rural Bangladesh and the CHAT! project from urban Cambodia. Read more here.

Creating an adaptive culture and speeding up the time it takes to adapt on Beam Exchange 

Krishi Utsho (KU) is a CARE social enterprise focused on generating systemic change to improve the availability and accessibility of agricultural inputs and services to small scale farmers in rural Bangladesh. This has been done by supporting the development of a network of microfranchise shops which serve underserved farmers. One of KU’s key goals for the market system is to improve communication between supply companies and small-scale farmers so companies are more responsive to farmers’ needs. In early 2016, the KU Team was selected to participate in CARE’s Scale X Design Accelerator, which aims to reduce the time it takes for an innovation to scale from an idea to widespread impact. From this experience the team learnt about Human Centered Design (HCD). This approach brings to the forefront the needs of the people you are designing for and tests what works and what does not in real world situations. One example of the approach to understanding the needs of the farmers was to ask them what method they preferred for receiving new information and also working with them to develop a way for them to effectively send feedback to the KU Team. Through HCD the KU team was able to better understand the problems that they are trying to solve. This experience provided them with an important perspective on the challenges as well as the needs and interests of the stakeholders. Through the new approach to prototyping they are able to learn and adapt the program much more easily. Two-way communication has proven effective and beneficial for the stakeholders and will continue to be a key component in the strategy moving forward. Read the full blog post here.

Development’s design challenge: Before creating new projects, scale what works on Devex

About 40 percent of women aged 15-49 report emotional, physical or sexual violence from their spouse in Rwanda. This is an alarming number but it is possible to stop this violence. Through a four-year-old effort called “Journeys of Transformation,” couples work together to tackle violence, and develop much healthier relationships. Nearly 8,000 people have gone through the program but much more needs to be done to end violence against women in Rwanda. Initiatives like the Scale X Design Accelerator can do just that. Its purpose is to scale up proven solutions to the barriers holding poor communities back. Scale X Design includes mentorship, labs that build scaling skills and the opportunity for greater investment. There is a proliferation of pilot programs in the development sector. Successfully scaled solutions remain exceptions rather than the norm. Journeys of Transformation involves 20 intense training sessions. Husbands and wives work together to tackle domestic violence, disproportionate workloads and other issues at the core of inequitable gender roles holding women and communities back. The immediate goal is to end violence but husbands that complete the course are more inclined to treat their wives as equals and to enjoy more engaged and positive relationships with their wives and children. The Scale X Design Accelerator has helped the team troubleshoot barriers to scaling through a human-centered design. Through these more deliberate and focused actions this life saving program can reach many more couples in need in Rwanda. Read more here.

3 Lessons To Guide Designing Better Financial Tech for the Developing World from GRID Impact

Check out this article 3 Lessons To Guide Designing Better Financial Tech For The Developing World” on Fast Company Exist from Alexandra Fiorillo’s op-ed on GRID Impact’s financial inclusion work in Pakistan. Alex is founder and principal at GRID Impact, our partner in the Human-Centered Design lab. Here’s a sneak peek:

  1. Promote individual use, but don’t be too prescriptive
  2. Design for skills education
  3. Design for local relevance

Read more here!


What We’re Reading: How to Develop a Human-Centered Design Mindset

It’s official, human-centered design is a hot topic in the development space! There seem to be more people writing about it than are actually doing it, though.

Check out the latest article from Devex on “How to develop a human-centered design mindset” 

Jocelyn Wyatt, Executive Director of Ideo, sat down with Devex to discuss the most common shoulder shrug reaction that we hear in response human-centered design: “Well, that’s just good development.”

True! It’s not necessarily new, but it’s definitely not universally applied.   Check out Jocelyn’s reflections here:



Human Centered Design Challenge: Krishi Utsho

Krishi Utsho or KU, the CARE social enterprise initiative focused on improving the accessibility of agriculture inputs and services in rural Bangladesh, recently participated in an optional design challenge as part of the Human-Centered Design (HCD) Accelerator lab. They blended HCD with positive deviance* to look at one of their most successful franchisees, Saiful Islam Sumon, who owns three stores-  the most of any franchisee.  Continue reading to find out what was learned and then what was done about it!

What does Saiful do differently than other franchisees that makes him so successful?

08. Model Shop1. He tailors the format of transaction register books. Krishi Utsho trains all its franchisees to use a general register book format that is uniform for every business size and growth trajectory. But Saiful tailored his register book format to fit the size of his business and growth. He also tracks purchase habits and credit records for each customer, which gives him a deeper knowledge and understanding of them. This change addressed an issue felt by other franchisees who find the traditional register book to be cumbersome and therefore often fail to maintain the credit record

2. Saiful breaks down the bulky 25 kg pack of cattle feed into easier-to-see 1 kg packs. Why? Because he consulted his customers who preferred small-unit packaging in order to keep the quality of the product intact and were even willing to pay a premium to get it. This innovation set Saiful apart from other franchisees who do not repackage but rather supply lower quality product since it slowly deteriorated once the 25 kg pack was open until it was finished.

What else did we learn about the farmers? 

11. Desired Package

In addition to learning about the farmers preference for the items packaged in small quantities, even at a higher price, the KU team learned something about their preferred method for product promotions.

Most of the farmers indicated a preference for miking (promotions using a microphone and loudspeakers) since both the farmers and other household members pay attention to this type of advertisements. TV and radio advertisements can be easily missed and leaflets miss an entire audience segment because of illiteracy. Text and voice message promotions are also not preferred since users tend to ignore most of the commercials transmitted by cell phone companies.



Ok…so what’s the problem?

06. Feasibility TestingThe miking advertisement strategy only allows for unidirectional communication so KU struggles to learn from farmers about their demand and satisfaction with KU’s products and services. The absence of a formal information channel between farmers, input shops and suppliers leads to asymmetric information between different stakeholders, the outcomes of which include adulteration of inputs and weak credit management.

Wait- why is this so important?

KU views the development of a customer database that will collect, store and maintain consumer-level information on input purchases and consumer feedback to facilitate demand forecasts, appropriate packaging, and in-store credit as an essential component of its business moving forward. This system will capture data from all of the 400 – 600 customers that visit each shop every month.

So what did we do about it? We prototyped!

Prototyping session with Franchisees

To address this issue, KU applied the tenets of Human Centered Design (HCD) to prototype a solution and test it at the field level during the optional design challenge. KU prototyped the use of a suggestion box placed in the front of the shop, which allows customers to fill out a feedback form after purchases. The form itself asks simple, pictorial, self-explanatory questions regarding the current purchase as well as the customers’ experience regarding previous purchases. To motivate farmers to fill out the form, KU will randomly select a farmer through a lottery-style prize drawing every month. KU is now testing this prototype in a single store. The response from the customers so far has been very good.



What’s next?

47_CARE Impact Challange - Krishi UtshoKU’s long-term strategy is to transition to an ICT-based feedback collection system to support rapid expansion. As such, they’ll prototype using a toll-free number where consumers will voluntarily provide feedback and employing two dedicated people who collect data over the phone. This intervention will allow KU to choose customers to provide data according to KU’s needs.

Special thanks to GRID Impact for helping us create the Design Challenge and coaching the Bangladesh team!


*What is positive deviance? It’s an international development approach based on “the observation that in every community there are certain individuals or groups whose uncommon behaviors and strategies enable them to find better solutions to problems than their peers, while having access to the same resources and facing similar or worse challenges.” Learn more at positivedeviance.org!