13,455 The Drum Beat, Design Thinking and Communication – The Drum Beat 752 February 21, 2018

The Drum BeatDesign Thinking and Communication – The Drum Beat 752
February 21, 2018
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Also known as human-centred design (HCD) and user-centred design (UCD), design thinking is about designing something with not just for the end user. While design thinking has its origins in the private sector, the development community has long recognised the need for more participatory approaches – particularly when there are many different and often competing perspectives that must be integrated into a design or solutions set. Approaching challenges from this perspective may interest the communication for development (C4D) practitioner, in particular, due to its focus on, as the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) puts it, “empathy, actively engaging end-users, providers and other stakeholders throughout the development process. HCD incorporates an understanding of the motivations and incentives that drive human behavior, including cultural and social norms, into designing solutions that are aligned with the end-user and offer lasting im! pact.” As this Drum Beat illustrates, design thinking may help us explore contextually-relevant and actionable solutions to C4D-relevant questions such as: How might we go about designing high-impact solutions for low-literacy populations in low-tech contexts?
From The Communication Initiative Network – where communication and media are central to social and economic development.
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  • 1. IDEO and IDEO.org work to create positive social impact through design. Here are some resources that explore the concept of HCD as applied in practice by these organisations:
  • 2. A Design Experiment: Imagining Alternative Humanitarian Action
    This document shares the ideas and discussion that emerged from an Overseas Development Institute (ODI) project to reimagine humanitarian action using design thinking. It: describes how the approach taken is different, outlines the design challenge, profiles the various users of the system and some of their experiences, explores what a future state vision for humanitarian action could look like through a series of ideas and frameworks, takes a deeper dive into a few of those ideas and how they may be implemented in practice, and reflects on both the outcome of this process and its limitations. Looking through a human-centred lens, the design guide envisions a framework in which future responses are based on a clear understanding of the needs of crisis-affected people and proposes ideas for how humanitarian actors might do better to meet them. [Jan 2018]
  • 3. Ser refugiado es como ser tico [Being a Refugee Is like Being a Costa Rican]
    The main objective of this project was to foster the legal and economic integration of the refugee community in Costa Rica through a comprehensive communication strategy designed to increase their access to accurate and practical information. For the campaign, launched in 2015 on World Refugee Day by the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Directorate General of Immigration (DGME), and the communications agency McCann San Jose, and designed and developed with the cooperation of Costa Rican volunteers and refugees, organisers drew on the HCD methodology. Refugee participation, willingness, and interest reflected the importance of making their equality visible to society.
  • 4. Lean HCD: A Case Study in Human-Centered Design in the Highlands of Guatemala
    by Adam Fivenson and Kristen Roggemann
    International development company DAI describes “lean HCD” as a flexible, locally-grounded approach to HCD that involves developing empathy. This paper describes lean HCD, which involves developing empathy with users to gain an understanding of the political, economic, and social factors that guide behaviour and decision-making, but with greater methodological flexibility than traditional HCD and with increased remote/long-distance collaboration with local experts, organisations, and institutions. This paper illustrates lean HCD though a case study of Nexos Locales, or “Nexos”, a local governance initiative run by DAI. [Nov 2017]
  • 5. Using human-centred design to achieve your goals
    From this blog by BBC Media Action’s Radharani Mitra: “…Now that human-centred design is trendy, we need to make sure it is not treated as a separate, add-on activity or process. It is integral to ‘doing development’….This then begs the question, why are all implementers not using human-centred design principles in their work? And if they are not, what could be the reasons – lack of resources, time or access to technology? Which brings me to the biggest myth around human-centred design – that it can only be used to create digital or tech solutions…” [Nov 2017]
  • See also:
    Design Research for Media Development: A Guide for Practitioners
    Design thinking and health communication: learning from failure


Those with an interest in learning about and furthering the science and art of SBCC, including SBCC and entertainment-education professionals, are welcome to att! end the 2018 International SBCC Summit, to be held April 16 to 20 2018, Nusa Dua, Indonesia.

Registration will close on March 19 2018 or when the event reaches capacity. Click here for more information.


  • 6. Rethinking Communication for Maternal and Child Health: Lessons from the Shaping Demand and Practices Project in Bihar, Northern India
    by Caroline Sugg and Priyanka Dutt
    This practice briefing from BBC Media Action documents a particular approach to project design in Northern India and its subsequent implementation of the Shaping Demand and Practices (SDP) initiative. Design theory was based upon an adapted version of Stanford University’s 5 modes of design thinking “empathise, define, ideate, prototype, test”. By engaging creative ideas – using insight as a base instead of messaging as a base, the project found more engagement of women. By using consistent characters, serialised storytelling, and audio-visual materials, the project increased audience engagement with media. Design and functionality were centralised, and healthworker engagement was increased. [Mar 2017]
  • 7. Diva Centres and Divine Divas
    In Zambia, IDEO.org partnered with Marie Stopes International and the Hewlett Foundation to design the Diva Centres – a multi-touchpoint service that helps adolescent girls in urban Lusaka access the contraception they need to take control of their bodies and their futures. Using the HCD approach, which involved spending weeks immersed in the lives and aspirations of Zambian teens, the project design revolved around vibrant and youth friendly Diva Centres, a space where girls can do their nails while having informal conversations about boys and sex. They learn about contraception in their own terms from trained peers, and, when they are ready, receive counselling and access to a variety of short and long-term birth control methods in a safe and judgment-free environment from a trained professional.
  • 8. Applying User-Centered Design to Data Use Challenges: What We Learned
    by Michelle Li, Amanda Makulec, and Tara Nutley
    This report describes the design process, activities, and outcomes (prototypes) from a UCD activity to strengthen use of data within HIV programmes. MEASURE Evaluation worked with the South African design firm Matchboxology (MBX) to adapt and implement a UCD method to explore the human factors that impact the many different types of stakeholders and individuals who are involved in the production and use of data. The design approach engaged data users directly in identifying barriers to data use and prototyping innovative solutions that could be tested and adopted. [May 2017]
  • 9. Home-Based Record Redesigns That Worked: Lessons from Madagascar & Ethiopia
    This document from JSI’s Coordination and Implementation of Child Health Record Redesigns Project summarises 2 efforts to redesign home-based records (HBRs – sometimes called immunisation cards or child health booklets) in Madagascar and Ethiopia using a user-centred approach, including the background and rationale for considering a redesign, the stakeholders involved, and the steps completed in the process to redesign and roll out a revised HBR. [Aug 2017]
  • 10. Integrating Participatory Design and Health Literacy to Improve Research and Interventions
    by Linda Neuhauser
    This article shares research findings about health literacy and participatory design to improve health promotion, providing practical guidance and case examples for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. Neuhauser discusses the origin and scientific foundation of participatory design in social sciences and in design sciences. The requirement to reach a deep level of empathy with users before moving on to other steps differs from traditional research strategies that begin with identifying problems. She recommends 6 summary steps related to designing and testing health communication resources, referencing the Institute of Design at the University of California, Berkeley, which has developed a repository of design methods and cases called The Design Exchange. [Jun 2017]
  • 11. Increasing Support for Reproductive Health Activities Among Religious Leaders in Niger (Accroître le Soutien aux Activités de Santé Reproductive parmi les Leaders Religieux au Niger) – Volumes 1, 2 and 3
    These 3 dual language reports offer a summary of the HCD process used by Population Services International (PSI) to engage religious leaders in reproductive health activities in the Zinder region of Niger. Each of the volumes looks at a different part of the HCD process: inspiration (the formative research stage), ideation (making sense of what is learned and the development and testing of prototypes), and implementation of the most promising ideas that emerged. [2017]
  • 12. Dapivirine Ring Design Guide – Human-Centered Design Research to Increase Uptake and Use
    To encourage use, young women need products – e.g., the dapivirine (DPV) ring, a long-acting woman-controlled method for reducing the risk of HIV infection – that are designed with their values, needs, and lifestyle in mind. For that reason, the initiative outlined in this guide used the HCD approach to better understand the daily lives of at-risk young women. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) publication has 2 parts: (i) the guide, which gives an overview of design concepts and how they were developed through user research, journey mapping, and persona development; and (ii) a supplementary asset library, which provides resources such as editable templates and supporting visuals for select concepts. [2017]
  • See also:
    Académie de l’Artisanat – Helping Girls in Benin Take Control of their Reproductive Future and Their Financial Life
    Driving Demand for Chlorhexidine: A Human-Centered Design Toolkit for the Development of Demand Generation Materials
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  • 13. Using Technology for Social Good: An Exploration of Best Practice in the Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Development
    by Adele Waugaman
    From United Methodist Communications (UMCom), this paper explores the use of information and communication technology (ICT) as a tool for economic and social development. It captures “best practice” in the use of mobile phones and other low-cost communications technologies through a series of interviews with 8 experts and practitioners. The third section introduces the concept of UCD in development projects and discusses the importance of collaboration with local communities. It introduces the term “agile development”, which encourages “brainstorming, prototyping and iterating early in the project cycle to learn quickly what works.” [2014]
  • 14. Approaches to Local Content: Realising the Smartphone Opportunity
    by Alex Smith and Ben Moskowitz
    In 2014, the GSMA and the Mozilla Foundation formed a partnership in order to explore approaches to stimulating local content creation in new smartphone markets. This report shares lessons from the design and development of Mozilla Webmaker, a free and open source tool intended to make mobile content creation accessible to anyone with an entry-level smartphone. In designing Webmaker, the Mozilla team worked closely with volunteers and local users, taking insights into a tight, iterative feedback loop. In countries including Bangladesh, Brazil, Indonesia, and Kenya, Mozilla volunteers organised task forces, ranging from customer support to event facilitation, teaching, marketing, and user research. Here, the “design charette” method was used, where potential users are involved in the design of the product itself. [Sep 2015]
  • 15. A Vision for the Humanitarian Use of Emerging Technology for Emerging Needs
    From a global dialogue series organised at 6 technology hubs of the American Red Cross (ARC) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), this document summarises results of the exploration of “attitudes, beliefs, questions and concerns of both community members and humanitarians that influence urban communities’ perceptions of emerging technology.” Focused on strengthening urban resilience, the HCD process “defined eight criteria for resilience-strengthening solutions, chose the initial eight emerging technologies, the many ways they can help urban dwellers cope with emergencies, and how Red Cross and Red Crescent arrived at five key recommendations based on community-level requests and our humanitarian expertise.” [Mar 2015]
  • 16. The mAgri Design Toolkit – User-centered Design for Mobile Agriculture
    The design process outlined in this GSMA toolkit focuses on engaging the farmer at all stages of the product development – from the early moment of identifying the opportunities and generating concepts, to the advanced stages of product realisation, execution, and scaling. The toolkit is one of the outcomes of a partnership between the GSMA mAgri Programme and frog, a global design and strategy firm that specialises in bringing a UCD approach into the product development process. Both organisations worked closely with 6 mobile network operators (MNOs) in Malawi, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Ghana to develop and launch mobile agriculture services. [2015]
  • See also:
    mHealth Design Toolkit – Ten Principles to Launch, Develop and Scale Mobile Health Services in Emerging Markets
    mNutrition: Behaviour Change in 160 Characters or Less?

  • 17. Trial of a Novel Intervention to Improve Multiple Food Hygiene Behaviors in Nepal
    by Om Prasad Gautam, Wolf-Peter Schmidt, Sandy Cairncross, Sue Cavill, and Valerie Curtis
    This paper reports on a trial of an intervention to improve 5 food hygiene behaviours among mothers of young children in Kavre District in the highland area of rural Nepal. The intervention was based on motivating mothers rather than educating them using a creative approach and behaviour change science. Based on formative research and a creative process using the Behavior-Centered Design (BCD) approach, the intervention package was designed and delivered through a 5-step process. Six weeks after the intervention, the target behaviours were more common in the intervention than in the control group (43% [SD = 14%] versus 2% [SD = 2%], P = 0.02) during follow-up. [Dec 2016]
  • 18. Designing for Behavior Change: A Practical Field Guide
    This manual is a condensed reference guide on the Designing for Behavior Change (DBC) approach used by The Technical and Operational Performance Support (TOPS) Program, a USAID/Food For Peace (FFP)-funded programme. There are 5 principles of DBC: (i) Action/behaviour is what counts (not beliefs or knowledge); (ii) Know exactly who your priority group is and look at everything from their point of view; (iii) People take action when it benefits them; barriers keep people from acting; (iv) Activities should reference the important benefits and minimise the most significant barriers; (v) Base all decisions on evidence, not conjecture, and keep checking. [Jan 2017]
  • 19. Using Behavioral Science to Design a Peer Comparison Intervention for Postabortion Family Planning in Nepal
    by Hannah Spring, Saugato Datta, and Sabitri Sapkota
    This paper details the processes and results from a participatory research initiative to increase family planning uptake among women who receive abortion and postabortion services at Sunaulo Parivar Nepal (SPN). Using a behavioural economics approach, the research focused on provider-related contextual features, behaviours, and perceptions that could be inhibiting postabortion family planning (PAFP) uptake. “The novelty of this intervention is the process that was taken to determine which intervention to use, which was highly participatory and allowed us to respond to the barriers present in this specific context.” [Jun 2016]
  • 20. Behavioral Economics and Developmental Science: A New Framework to Support Early Childhood Interventions
    by Lisa Gennetian, Matthew Darling, and J Lawrence Aber
    “The interdisciplinary framework emerging from behavioral economics broadens our understanding of parent behaviors that can subsequently inform design strategies to facilitate parent engagement.” As is outlined here, tools emerging from behavioural insights can be used to create new and complementary interventions and to enhance the impact of existing curricula or large-scale, system-wide interventions, including home visiting programmes. For example, the insights have supported creation of lighter-touch parent-focused early childhood interventions, such as PACT, a tablet-based reading intervention that incorporates goal-setting and feedback made available to children in Head Start centres in the US, with promising impacts on parent reading time with their children. [2016]
  • See also:
    Human-Centric Health: Behaviour Change and the Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases
This issue of The Drum Beat was written by Kier Olsen DeVries.
The Drum Beat is the email and web network of The Communication Initiative Partnership.

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