19 November 2009

Stanford Social Innovation Review recently published an article by Tim Brown and Jocelyn Wyatt of IDEO. The whole article highlights the many ways that design thinking and process are being applied to complex global problems. You can download it for free here.

This quote is from the article and describes my adaptation of the HCD toolkit:

Earlier this year, Kara Pecknold, a student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia, took an internship with a women’s cooperative in Rwanda. Her task was to develop a Web site to connect rural Rwandan weavers with the world. Pecknold soon discovered that the weavers had little or no access to computers and the Internet. Rather than ask them to maintain a Web site, she reframed the brief, broadening it to ask what services could be provided to the community to help them improve their livelihoods. Pecknold used various design thinking techniques, drawing partly from her training and partly from Ideo’s Human Centered Design toolkit, to understand the women’s aspirations.

Because Pecknold didn’t speak the women’s language, she asked them to document their lives and aspirations with a camera and draw pictures that expressed what success looked like in their community. Through these activities, the women were able to see for themselves what was important and valuable, rather than having an outsider make those assumptions for them. During the project, Pecknold also provided each participant with the equivalent of a day’s wages (500 francs, or roughly $1) to see what each person did with the money. Doing this gave her further insight into the people’s lives and aspirations. Meanwhile, the women found that a mere 500 francs a day could be a significant, lifechanging sum. This visualization process helped both Pecknold and the women prioritize their planning for the community.

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