Design Thinking
Human Centred Service Design, Service Design

A Powerful Approach to Transform Citizen Experience & Solve Social Problems

 “We must design for the way people behave, not for how we would wish them to behave.” Donald A. Norman, Living with Complexity

Many young educated Indians are joining the social enterprise either as an employee or as an entrepreneur. There are several NGOs, Foundations, and CSR Fund working in the social sector. Josh to solve the social problems is on the rise. This is a very encouraging sign.  It is a mix of capitalism and socialism.

But are these organisations effectively able to do what they are supposed to do?

Every organisation whether for profit or not for profit are solving some or the other problems and that is why they are in business.

A hotel is solving hunger or socialising problem, mobile phone is solving communication problem and a lawyer is solving legal compliance or needs for the justice problem. Likewise, NGO Cry is solving problems related to children and Help Age is solving old age-related problems.

What we badly need in India in the social sector and in the Government service sector is the Design Thinking way of working and solving problems.  If applied on a large scale, Govt. can use design thinking to not only to solve wicked problems but enhance citizen experience.

“The mindset of government as a public service provider is not widely spread among bureaucrats. They do not deem, or cannot imagine, citizens to be potential proactive ‘servicers’. That constitutes a limiting factor to foster service ecosystems in the region.” Hiroshi Tamura, President of Re:public Inc, Japan

The problem with our Govt service sector is sometimes they act anti-design thinking. Rather than solving problem, their action creates problems.  Rather than easing citizen experience their action makes citizen experience difficult.

What we need and lack is human centrality of the people the organisation wants to serve. This is the problem, major problem. It impacts citizen experience, ease of living and for private sector affects customer experience.

Companies are tech, process, and self-centric, social enterprises are constraint centric, and Govt service provider agencies like municipalities, tax departments, and railway, etc. are control, process, and apathy centric.

In the book Wicked problems Worth Solving, the author writes,

“Social entrepreneurs create social capital through the creation of a product, interaction, or service.

They typically have backgrounds in sociology or public policy, see the world through a lens of policy or economic incentives, and develop solutions by working their way “down” from a given policy or business model.

That means they’ll work on either changing the policy or economics or supplementing laws. For example, this type of social entrepreneur may start by thinking about the lack of enough low-income housing in a given city.

Thoughtful solutions, in this case, may include offering vouchers, subsidies, or other forms of free or lower-cost housing for those that qualify.”

Design Thinking

According to Nonprofit Management Consultant Nell Edgington, nonprofits typically have five problems:

  • an inability to raise enough money
  • a lack of strategic direction
  • an inability to “move the needle” on a social problem
  • a disconnected, disengaged, ineffective board of directors
  • a lack of sufficient organizational infrastructure

The operational and strategic nature of these problems implies that these institutions often have difficulty delivering any impact at all. Because a nonprofit or an NGO constantly chase grant money and funding, they are unable to drive cultural change.

Social Enterprises have a moral im­perative to build capacity, to enable the community to solve its own problems, lift itself up. If you’re not helping the community build its ability to improve either its skills or its support network, you’re not making a difference.

Designers with Human-Centered Design Thinking approach, can change the culture, change behavior, and advance a system of values, and social entrepreneurship provides the economic vehicle in which designers can tackle wicked problems.

View of the IDEO, the pioneer and leading design firm of the world:

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.

Embracing human-centered design means believing that all problems, even the seemingly intractable ones like poverty, gender equality, and clean water, are solvable.

Moreover, it means believing that the people who face those problems every day are the ones who hold the key to their answer.

The human-centered design offers problem solvers of any stripe a chance to design with communities, to deeply understand the people they’re looking to serve, to dream up scores of ideas, and to create innovative new solutions rooted in people’s actual needs.

Design thinking approach amounts to wild creativity, to a ceaseless push to innovate, and a confidence that leads us to solutions we’d never dreamed of when we started.     

The scientific approach to solve Obesity issue might be to educate people to eat right, exercise regularly, avoid junk food, etc. Creating awareness and educate the target audience. Design thinking approach is about changing the behaviour so that people choose the right food and people starts to do some physical exercise. and to do whatever it takes.

What is Design Thinking? (Also known as Human-Centered Design)

It has three phases: (from the Field Guide to HCD by IDEO)

  • Inspiration

The Inspiration phase is about learning on the fly, opening yourself up to creative possibilities, and trusting that as long as you remain grounded in desires of the communities you’re engaging, your ideas will evolve into the right solutions.

You’ll build your team, get smart on your challenge, and talk to a staggering variety of people

  • Ideation

In the Ideation phase, you’ll share what you’ve learned with your team, make sense of a vast amount of data, and identify opportunities for design. You’ll generate lots of ideas, some of which you’ll keep, and others which you’ll discard.

You’ll get tangible by building rough prototypes of your ideas, then you’ll share them with the people from whom you’ve learned and get their feedback. You’ll keep iterating, refining, and building until you’re ready to get your solution out into the world.

  • Iteration

In the Implementation phase, you’ll bring your solution to life, and to market. You’ll build partnerships, refine your business model, pilot your idea, and eventually get it out there.

And you’ll know that your solution will be a success because you’ve kept the very people you’re looking to serve at the heart of the process.

In order to embrace HCD, you need to have a different midset.

The mindset of the Design Thinkers:

  • Learn from Failure
  • Make it
  • Creative Confidence
  • Embrace Ambiguity
  • Empathy
  • Be Optimistic
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate

You need to have a beginners mindset. Usual I know it all mindest is an obstacle.

Stanford Design school document Bootcamp Bootleg guides us about the beginners’ mindest.

Why assume beginners mindest?

We all carry our experiences, understanding, and expertise with us. These aspects of yourself are incredibly valuable assets to bring to the design challenge – but at the right time, and with intentionality.

Your assumptions may be misconceptions and stereotypes and can restrict the amount of real empathy you can build. Assume a beginner’s mindset in order to put aside these biases, so that you can approach a design challenge afresh.

Design Thinking1

How to have a beginners mindset? 

Don’t judge: Just observe and engage users without the influence of value judgments upon their actions, circumstances, decisions, or “issues.”

Question everything: Question even (and especially) the things you think you already understand. Ask questions to learn about how the user perceives the world. Think about how a 4-year-old asks “Why?” about everything. Follow up an answer to one “why” with a second “why.”

Be truly curious: Strive to assume a posture of wonder and curiosity, especially in circumstances that seem either familiar or uncomfortable.

Find patterns: Look for interesting threads and themes that emerge across interactions with users.

Listen: Really. Lose your agenda and let the scene soak into your psyche. Absorb what users say to you, and how they say it, without thinking about the next thing you’re going to say.

The intersection of Feasibility, Desirability, and Viability

Human-centered design is uniquely situated to arrive at solutions that are desirable, feasible, and viable.

By starting with humans, their hopes, fears, and needs, it quickly uncovers what’s most desirable. But that’s only one lens through which the designers look at our solutions.

Human-Centered designers determine a range of solutions that could appeal to the community they are looking to serve, they then start to home in on what is technically feasible to actually implement and how to make the solution financially viable.

It’s a balancing act, but one that’s absolutely crucial to designing solutions that are successful and sustainable.

Quotes from Service Design Impact Report Public Sector

“There are large programmes publicly funded to increase the ability of public agencies to use service design as a tool for innovation.” Kaja Misvær Kistorp, Manager of the DOT initiative at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Norway

“The Flemish government structurally supports the use of Service Design to improve government services.” David Morgan, Lead Designer at Knight Moves, Belgium

“Design as in the process, ie. Design thinking/methodology/citizen-centered/ iterative processes are currently applied in policymaking and there’s a movement of a cultural shift in policymaking.”  Amy Lee, Service Designer at the Ministry of Justice. UK

“We are at the beginning of the journey of incorporating design into all aspects of policy development.“ Lynne Goodyer, Service Designer at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Australia

“The value of design is high in the municipality of Helsinki. Service designers have recently been employed by the municipality, along with an opening for a Chief Design Officer for the city.” Andreas Pattichis, Service Designer for the public sector, Finland

On social front HCD is transforming lives:

It is solving fulfilling clinic experience for patients, families, staff, and physicians at a health clinic in the UPMC Presbyterian Neurosurgery Clinic, the US, it is used to create saving products to serve low-income Mexicans,

HCD is used to design mobile financial tools to help victims of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines devised an ingenious way to understand how people felt about getting loans. Selling health insurance to rural Nigeria.

In India on a solar energy project with d.light, an design team set out to design the next generation of solar-powered lights for rural, low-income communities.

It is being used to design smart parking service in London, creating digital mental wellbeing services, extreme customer orientation for an insurance company.

In her recent interview, Suparna Menon, Partner- Digital Strategy and Customer Engagement Design, IBM, said,” Enterprise design thinking has the potential to deliver immense business outcomes such as twice as fast speed to market, 75% increase in efficiencies, and more than 300% increase in ROI.

“It is not just an activity, it is about the cultural change, it’s about a shift in the way people think and solve problems and that requires a certain mindset right at the top,

“Trying to get something out quickly without truly investing in understanding users, will lead to a business falling prey to is your own biases and assumptions of what the solution needs to be.”

Here is a simple video to explain the process:

Whether the public sector, private sector or social sector the world over HCD has taken a stride to enhance citizen experience, customer experience, and solve wicked social problems.

India where 1.3 bn people live, we have several wicked problems to solve. We badly need this thinking and methodologies in social and Government sector to have a maximum impact and enhance ease of living.

“We spend a lot of time designing the bridge, but not enough time thinking about the people who are crossing it.” Dr. Prabhjot Singh, Director of Systems Design at the Earth Institute

It is time we need design thinking revolution across the social sector, citizen-facing Govt services. All Social Enterprises, NGOs, Govt. Ministries, Departments, and MPs shall engage with Service Designers and work closely to solve social problems effectively and to improve citizen experience and ease of living.

The private sector in their own interest sooner or later will embrace HCD way of working. Content Marketing is the latest example of how marketing is going away from product/company-centric to human-centric.

You may also love to read: Human-Centered – Need for Every Marketer in Down Turn

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