There’s a growing trend in the landscape of social innovation. Entrepreneurs are using the human-centered approach, “design-thinking,” to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Ideo.org is a leader in social innovation, designing solutions such as Clean Team, an enterprise in Ghana that promotes sanitation by providing toilets equipped with a removable waste container that is collected three times a week, and allows families to pay on an incremental basis. Design-thinking is a process that relies on innovators to trust their gut, be observant, recognize patterns in their findings and experiences, and create solutions that are not only functional, but effective. This design process consists of three continuous phases: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. Inspiration
Understanding the challenge at hand is crucial to the process of creating a sustainable solution. While traditional research is useful, design-thinking calls for a human-centered approach, requiring innovators to be in the field interacting with the people they intend to help.
Teamwork is essential for ideation. Design teams should be diverse in background and skillset, providing a range of assets and insights for tackling an issue. While diversity is important, it can also lead to disagreements, which is why “Yes, and…” is an important rule. Being encouraging and accepting of ideas from the practical to the outrageous is crucial for success— brilliant ideas come from putting everything on the table.
Two main aspects of the implementation phase are rapid prototyping and creating an action plan. Rapid prototyping calls for constant reiteration of an idea, enabling the discovery of unforeseen issues to take back to the drawing board. A thorough action plan is also crucial, as it establishes how people can access the product or service.
Design-thinking enables innovators and entrepreneurs to approach challenges unlike ever before, creating solutions that get the job done!
-Samuel R. Harris