Design + Rigor
Human-centered design is a problem-solving process grounded in empathy and iteration. It’s also a powerful framework for creating alignment among people from diverse backgrounds and turning ideas into action.
How do we do it?
First, we design the project.
We don’t just create artifacts, we create engagements. Every project is intentionally designed to maximize ownership, implementation and impact by engaging end users at the start.
- We practice appreciative inquiry by positively framing projects in terms of solutions to achieve, rather than problems to fix.
- We seek out positive deviants – the small number of folks who have created their own solutions—so we can learn from their work.
- We find participants using the principles of relational recruiting, identifying key stakeholders and building partnerships with community-based organizations.
Our learning happens in the real world.
Rather than surveys or focus groups, our research is about observing behavior in context. We believe that seeing and learning from people’s behaviors in real time is the best way to build empathy—the key to good design.
- We hold interviews and exercises where the users are, so we can immerse ourselves in their realities.
- We start by explaining our goals and purpose, so participants understand why we’re there and how important their role is.
- We take a trauma-informed approach to working with vulnerable populations, building on strengths and creating an atmosphere of psychological safety.
We define opportunities around what is working.
Traditional design focuses on finding and meeting unmet needs, but we also focus on assets–the existing tools, habits and relationships we can support and scale through design.
- We make our qualitative data tangible—filling the walls with photos, quotes and stories—to keep the team grounded in concrete examples.
- We find themes and insights based on patterns of behavior, then make them generative with frameworks and “how might we” statement.
- We share findings through compelling videos, engaging workshops and inspirational visuals to help teams take action.
We use brainstorming as a tool for inclusion.
All brainstorms are not created equal. Our ideation sessions are facilitated to engage diverse stakeholders and bring out their creative confidence, so they can take an active role in designing their own solutions.
- To keep brainstorms both focused and productive, we use thought-provoking tools such as user stories, “how might we” statements and solutions from analogous fields.
- We defer judgment and go for quantity, so everyone can be comfortable sharing their insights.
- We use storyboards to show how program and service ideas add up to a comprehensive experience.
Our skills are honed by years of experience.
For every project, we custom build a team, matching the right skills and team size to each challenge we take on. Skills in our toolkit include:
- Behavioral Insights
- Design Thinking
- Design Thinking Capacity Building
- Human Centered Design
- Landscape Analysis
- Measurement + Evaluation
- Qualitative + Design Research
- Work Session Design + Facilitation
- Vision + Value Setting