What we’re learning – How do we prototype what CARE does best?

*Reposted with updated links*

If you were able to watch our introduction video, you know that one of our hypotheses for why it takes the development sector a long time to scale is that we’re often using our project cycles to test new adaptations of our innovations.  When we launch a “pilot,” that can mean waiting for two-three years to get feedback and course correct at the midterm evaluation.

While we might need to wait until the midterm to start getting hard data on impact, we don’t need to wait several years to get valuable feedback.   Why design and launch a full solution, when you can run rapid tests on prototypes first?

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[Photo credit: GRID Impact. Designers from Grameen Foundation test paper prototypes in Uganda]
So in our human-centered design lab, we’re thinking about how to prototype versus pilot and how this can give us just one new tool to move faster.

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GRID explains how all this works in one fantastic graph

One aspect that is taking us some time to get our heads around – how do you prototype anything that’s not a product, such as services or systems?  It’s still early days for applying HCD to international development, but here are some examples we love!

Sanitation: GRID Impact started off our lab with a deep dive into how they applied HCD and prototyping to increase the use of sanitation facilities (GRID +  Sanergy  +  DIFD  + Populist)

Family planning: The “Divine Divas” –  Prototyping a pop nail salon experience, peer-to-peer learning and service delivery for sexual and reproductive health services for adolescent girls in Zambia (Marie Stopes International + Ideo + The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation)

Prototyping nail salon experiences with teens. Read more at: http://stories.hewlett.org/designs_for_a_better_world Photo credit: IDEO

Governance and accountability: Making All Voices Count, an organization that works on issues of governance and accountability by enabling citizen engagement,  used human-centered design for the development of their stakeholder engagement strategy.  Their prototyping process included creating 12 “user archetypes” and using story-boarding and role playing to prototype potential ways to engage citizens.

Agriculture:  Juhudi Kilimo was interested in providing farmers with more in-depth technical training and assistance, so they prototyped both training videos utilizing actual farmers telling their stories and a mobile helpline (Juhudi Kilimo + Ideo)

Photo Credit: IDEO.org Read all about it here: http://www.wassermanfoundation.org/news/designing-better-training-for-farmers/

Health Systems: The Backpack Plus project used the physical object of a backpack as a starting point for designing systems to support and empower community health workers. (USAID + Frog  + UNICEF + MDG Health Alliance + Save the Children)

http://www.unicefstories.org/model/chwbackpackplus/
Photo Credit: UNICEF Read more at: http://www.unicefstories.org/model/chwbackpackplus/

Getting to know our “users” and our “scalers”

This month, our accelerator teams are diving into a lab on human-centered design with GRID Impact. At the core of most accelerators, incubators or innovation “hubs” is the practice of getting to know your end user or your customer. Human-centered design has famously brought co-creation and empathy to the heart of innovation in the private sector.

As development workers, though, we often pride ourselves on being deeply empathetic, on both an organizational and individual level.  Our programmatic frameworks are built on human rights and empowerment, after all. But how well do we really know the participants in our programs (our “end users”)? Lots of data from formative research and long-term local presence can sometimes lull us into a false sense of knowing more than we really do, especially when it comes to designing programs.

It’s only fair to illustrate the point by picking on myself. Years ago, I worked on CARE’s avian influenza portfolio.  When avian flu first emerged, U.N. agencies and NGOs knew we had to act fast to provide advice to millions of backyard farmers across Asia.  During those early days, CARE was one of the first organizations to raise issues from the perspective of local communities, such as the disproportionate impact that culling flocks was having on women since they were more likely to raise backyard poultry.

Because we were closer to the community, I was pretty confident CARE could develop useful guidance for farmers. We spent time on our formative research and got out to project sites to interview farmers.  But when I got home, I did something that totally changed my perspective.  I built a chicken coop, got a few chickens and put them in my backyard. I became a backyard farmer.

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These were my chickens.  You are looking at a picture of Lucile, Cordelia, Buffy and Rogue.  In just a few weeks, these ladies taught me that many of those key messages that the humanitarian community collectively developed were actually pretty terrible and not at all practical.   It wasn’t until I dove into an immersive experience to understand our “users” that the proverbial light bulb went off.

So our first question in the accelerator is, how can we push ourselves further in understanding our end user?   Do we really understand the value of our innovation from our users’ perspective?  Can we articulate it from the users’ perspective? What evidence do we have that our users see their problem and our solution the same way we do?

Also, as we scale, we have to shift our mindset to thinking about the people and institutions that will replicate or scale our innovation as users as well.  How often do we miss the opportunity to design for their needs and constraints?  If we don’t design our innovations with these implementers or “scalers” in mind, we will definitely fail to achieve uptake.

Introduction to Human-Centered Design (HCD)

Human-Centered Design (HCD)

“Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem solving; it’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs. Human-centered design is all about building a deep empathy with the people you’re designing for; generating tons of ideas; building a bunch of prototypes; sharing what you’ve made with the people you’re designing for; and eventually putting your innovative new solution out in the world.” –IDEO.org

Why do a lab on human-centered design?

All innovation labs, accelerators, and incubators have “user-centered” or “human-centered” approaches as a core element.  They also embrace a mindset of rapid prototyping, testing, and iteration.  You’ll often hear the popular phrase, “failing fast” or “failing forward, faster.”  You’ll find those same threads in virtually all programs worldwide.

For the first lab session, teams are going to be introduced to these mindsets and also provided with practical tools to give them exposure to the full human-centered design process so they can immediately start doing something with it .  Experts from GRID Impact will be presenting this lab. More on them in another post!

Want to learn more?

Check out this Devex article on human-centered design for development.

Watch this video where PSI staff talk about embracing the methods of HCD as part of their way of working:

 

Meet our Partners: GRID Impact

GRID Impact logo

Meet GRID Impact

We’re partnering with GRID Impact based in Denver, Colorado for the first lab, Human-Centered Design, the teams will go through starting in early May. GRID Impact is a global research, innovation and design firm that specializes in human-centered approaches to complex social and economic challenges. They create scalable social impact in domains such as financial inclusion, sanitation, agriculture and alternative energy.

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Their Approach

GRID Impact applies a hybrid methodology of behavioral research and design to economic and human development challenges. They combine the evidence-based insights and diagnostic approach of behavioral science with the creative problem-solving and iterative, collaborative processes of human-centered design for more predictable, longer lasting results. Ultimately, they believe this approach produces products, programs and services that respond to how human beings actually behave as well as their needs, preferences and desires.

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Photo Credit: GRID Impact

Human-Centered Design (HCD)

Human-centered design (HCD) is a creative and adaptive problem-solving approach to bringing novel ideas to life that allows “designers” to understand how individuals will likely use and interact with a product by bringing human beings (“users”) into the process. This collaborative and participatory design process relies on rapid, iterative prototyping and design methods.  Resulting designs don’t always solve the behavioral challenge – just because someone says they like a proposed solution does not mean they will use it. Data and testing are often the missing components.

Check out more of their HCD resources on their website and look for an intro to HCD post next week.