Universal Design Business Symposium 2010 in Tokyo, Japan
Ravi Chhatpar, Strategy Director, frog Shanghai
I was recently a guest speaker at Nikkei's Universal Design Business Symposium, sponsored by Toyota, in Tokyo, Japan on June 18, 2010.
The theme of this forum was universal design, that is, "design that brings happiness to every corner of the earth," a more endearing description than the too often used "design for the 90%."
I drew on frog's experience with for-profit clients who often want tangible, measurable ROI from any innovation or design effort to suggest how social innovation efforts can have meaning and impact. Too often, we see examples of ideas that are feel like clever solutions to pressing social problems, but that fail in the field or that neglect to consider how to scale (e.g., the Hippo Roller). Alternatively, there are many examples of ideas that scale successfully but that are questionably clever to a designer's eyes (e.g., village rainwater collection systems).
I described frog's work on Project M (http://www.frogdesign.com/services/project-masiluleke.html), tackling South Africa's HIV problem, to define meaning and impact in social innovation. Beyond the home testing kit at the core of the solution, a mobile service platform was critical to sparking initial adoption and ensuring usage of the solution over time. Designing for awareness and advocacy in addition to usage is essential to creating meaning. Meanwhile, wearing a corporate strategy hat ensures questions of impact are adequately considered, as manufacturing, deployment, partnership strategy, quantitative validation, and long-term roadmaps are designed and executed.