Session 2: Design for Social Impact
Jocelyn Wyatt, Co-Lead and Executive Director of IDEO.org addressed the importance of human centred design, a creative approach to problem solving that starts with understanding peoples’ needs and ends with innovative solutions tailored to these peoples needs. She emphasized the need for tangible and measurable results, and the value of deep listening in gaining insight and inspiration for solutions that can scale.
She instructed the audience to start from a place of listening. “Understand what they say, feel, do, and think,” she said. “Then generate as many solutions as possible, test those ideas and take the steps to bring the solution to impact and scale.”
She gave the example of IDEO transforming a drab, traditional clinic into an accessible and inviting pop-up “Diva Centre” in Zambia, where teenage girls paint their nails while informally receiving information about sexual health. By taking a human-centered approach, spending weeks immersed in and understanding the lives and aspirations of Zambian teens, she said IDEO.org was able to increase the number of girls receiving family planning services through a multi-touch point approach. Working with Marie Stopes Zambia, IDEO.org has since launched three Diva Centres around Lusaka, which are serving more than 5,000 girls getting them the contraception they need. A staggering 82% of them have adopted some form of birth control, most for the first time.
She also spoke about an IDEO program that ignited a love of reading among Syrian refugees. What began as a circle of mothers reading storybooks to complement an existing education system in the camps needed to scale much more quickly with the increasing number of refugees. They put together a training program with videos and workshops, which soon developed into a We Love Reading movement that spread throughout the camps.
For more information on the IDEO.org Design Kit, which provides the necessary tools for applying a human-centre design approach to tackling problems, visit: www.designkit.org/humancentreddesign
Rama Gheerawo, Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art, an Icsid/WDO member, also spoke about human-centred social design and the importance of empathy. Having conducted design interventions with lower socio-economic and disadvantaged communities, Gheerawo addressed the importance of breaking down social barriers through simple, fun exercises in order to open up genuine conversations and engage the community.
The RCA’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design (HHCD) has delivered social innovation boot camps to provide students with an opportunity to learn people-centred innovation methods and practices. A session with migrant workers in Qatar revealed the importance of active listening in a relaxed and informal atmosphere, using for example the game of cricket to break the ice, gain trust and encourage engagement.
In Rebuilding Fukushima, HHCD worked with citizens from the radioactive zone to rebuild their community.
By engaging an inner-city community in London in The Great Balloon Swap, HHCD discovered that the solution to making under-lit urban areas feel safe is not simply to increase the light but also to create nodes of social participation where the darkness can be respected and enjoyed.
The London Taxi is another co-creative HHCD project that has developed a low-emission, inclusive London taxi by consulting with drivers, passengers, and manufacturers to achieve the best possible results in terms of accessibility and desirability.
We seek empathy not power in design, said Rama, who quoted the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore: “Power said to the world, you are mine. She imprisoned him on her throne. Love said to the world, I am yours. She gave him the freedom of her house.”
For more information: https://www.rca.ac.uk/research-innovation/helen-hamlyn-centre
Professor Dung-Sheng Chen of the Department of Sociology at National Taiwan University provided an historical perspective on social design in Taipei, arguing that the importance of design comes about as a result of the rapid social progression of Taiwan since the 1987 lifting of martial law towards a democratic and inclusive society.
He noted that technology has also given the public a means to participate in decision-making processes. City platforms such as join.gov.tw encourage a bottom-up approach, transparency in government processes, and direct citizen participation in policy, budgeting, and shaping the city.
Taipei’s social evolution has culminated in this year’s designation as World Design Capital, Chen said. As Adaptive City-Design in Motion, Taipei will continue to engage its citizens through public deliberation, participation and the use of the many platforms, where people can discuss, raise their voices, share their opinions, learn from others and participate in social change. He said, “Every citizen should be a social designer and have the ability to participate in the process of social design.”
Brian Wen of design consultancy, Continuum, spoke about a few of his agency’s projects in social innovation and the importance of advancing human centred design.
Continuum works with CGAP to ensure financial inclusion of the poor, helping Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) recipients in Pakistan understand their finances and test solutions that work for them. Focusing on a particular group of very poor, illiterate women receiving government support of $10 each per month, Continuum designed visual instructions to help them extract money from the ATM machine and deal with bank tellers.
Continuum created the first FDA-approved waterproof, wireless monitor for insulin pumps, giving type 1 diabetics a new-found sense of freedom and mobility. They also led a behaviour changing campaign to help diabetics monitor their blood sugar level, weight, physical activity, and caloric intake.
Continuum’s team in China has been working to bring diapers to rural china, and carving out a safe reliable ride sharing service to help women return to work.
They have also partnered with the Boston Planning and Development Agency to re-envision its mission to engage communities and bring solutions to where they are needed in the city.
Social innovation is about community activation and creativity, said Brian Wen. In order to ensure successful outcomes, we need community ownership from the very beginning.
Shikuan Chen, Vice President of Experience Design at Compal Electronics and Icsid/WDO board member, explored different technological phenomena that have transformed behaviour and impacted design. He said it was important to understand societal trends because consumer behaviour and attitudes translate into sales revenue.
He noted an important shift from the concept of ownership to rentals as a means of freeing up and sharing resources, saving money and space. “From camping gear to DIY equipment, from cars, to spare rooms and couches, personal appliances and smart phones,” he said. “People, most of them under the age of 35, are looking to generate economic value from idle resources.”
Environmental consciousness is also a dominant force as people move away from over consumption and unnecessary packaging. Taipei city’s 67% recycling rate is the highest in the world, noted Chen. “The Wall Street Journal has called us the World Geniuses of Garbage Disposal, a world leader in recycling.”
Chen described the notion of Being alone together, which sees us all wanting to be together and everywhere at the same, in the same room but using separate tech devices. “In my home,” said Chen, “the fastest way to get everyone to the dinner table is to shut off the Wi-Fi.” He suggested that there might be a business opportunity in creating a Wi-Fi disruptor to bring families together, similar to the Pokémon craze that has forced people out of their homes to gather in groups and play. “It’s contagious,” said Chen. “Even the elderly are playing with their grandkids, capturing Pokémon.” Many in the industry are looking at the positive ways in which we can use tech to bridge the generation gap and bring families together.
The next concept is the family of one, the fastest growing household profile. Worldwide, the number of single person households has gone up from 30 to about 34.2 million. It’s the same in Taiwan, with 1 out of every 4 people belonging to a single household. By 2030, the number of single person households will grow by over 30%. In the US, 62% of restaurant reservations are for solo diners, and 24% of travellers journeyed alone on their vacation. This is the new normal, said Chen. He suggested new business opportunities could be found to address a single person’s need for a smaller home with a layout quite different from that of a family of four. Single travellers will also favour boutique hotels and bookstores over bars.
Selfies are another trend that should interest business. The younger generation is obsessed with selfies, said Chen. In 2016, 2.5 trillion photos will be shared or stored online. 76% of millennials confessed that sharing these selfies on social media is the main purpose for their phone. In 2013, data servers around the world stored 1zeta byte of data and this is expected to rise to 45 ZB in 2020. “There’s a high carbon footprint in terms of electricity needed to feed the additional servers and the air conditioners needed to cool down these servers,” said Chen.
The future patterns of work will also change as more and more people become freelancers, working remotely in a digital world. Gone are the days of the daily commute and the 9 to 5 office job. Work swarms are on the rise, wherein a group gathers quickly to attack a problem and then dissipates when it’s completed.
Chen said the final trend is the so-called Flat White Economy, coined after Starbucks flat white coffee, is made up of the small business entrepreneurs and start-ups that have characterized the economy since the financial collapse. This young urban creative sector looks to maximize efficiency and within four years will be the largest economic sector in the UK.
Taipei has a lot of innovative power, said Chen, with 64 design schools and growing. He recommended foreign companies tap into Taipei’s extraordinary resource of talented designers.