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What I Learned About Human Centered Design Process for Nonprofits
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What I Learned About Human Centered Design Process for Nonprofits


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  • How Can You Bring Design Thinking to Your Nonprofit’s Digital Strategy?  Last week, I was lucky enough to participate in a brainstorming meeting at foundation that was developing a strategy for its digital. The process was facilitated by Luma Institute using its “Innovating for People” design methods. It was the most stimulating web platform strategy sessions that I’ve ever experienced. What are Human Centered Design principles? These are methods for developing solutions (any type) in service of people. By applying to this approach to web development or any program development or strategy, your nonprofit can more innovative and impactful results.  When I worked with a web developer for my blog redesign and observing other nonprofits approaching this process, we don’t often go this deep. We are so focused on “getting it done efficiently” and features, that we don’t take the time really understand the challenges and open up our creative thinking. As a result platform development strategy can become disconnected from the overall strategic communications goals and does not result in innovative thinking.  We received copies of his Luma’s book and cards, “Innovatin for People,” which is a synthesis of landscape analysis of design-thinking methods. He told a story that someone in one of his workshops to teach these methods asked him, “So what are the skills that we need to practice for 10,000 hours? His response: Looking: Observing human experienceUnderstanding: Methods for Analyzing Challenges and OpportunitiesMaking: Methods for Envisioning Future Possibilities  I really enjoyed how Peter Maher, CEO and Co-Founder of Luma-Institute facilitated the session. Not only was he a virtuoso facilitator but he was able to deftly move in and out of teacher mode and explain his tradecraft. I love being exposed to new ways of working, taking process notes, observing techniques, and thinking about how to apply to my own work.  The all-day session had us brainstorm new ideas, prioritize, and flesh out some concepts. Here’s a high level overview of some of the methods the small group of 12 participants used.
  • Looking: Observing human experienceUnderstanding: Methods for Analyzing Challenges and OpportunitiesMaking: Methods for Envisioning Future Possibilities
  • Transcript

    • 1. What I Learned About Using Design Methods for Nonprofit Communications Strategy Development Beth Kanter
    • 2. What is Human Centered Design? Everyone is a designer Design is devising a course of action to change something existing in service of people
    • 3. Look Understand Make What are the skill need to practice for 10,000 hours to master human centered design methods?
    • 4. A foundation brought together a group of advisors and experts to help develop a strategy for the organization’s web platforms over the next 2-3 years. The ideas would be used to inform a funding strategy and branding strategy that were also being developed. This meeting was in the early stage of the organization’s thinking.
    • 5. One Day Meeting with 12 Participants 1 Context 2 Group Understanding • Presentation • Active Listening • Affinity Mapping: Rough • Polish/Deeper Dive Full Group 3 Structured Brainstorming • Creative Matrix Small Teams
    • 6. 4 Prioritizing • Importance/Difficulty Matrix Small Teams 5 Synthesis • Concept Poster • Storyboard • Magazine Cover Small Teams 6. Consensus • Visualize the Vote Full Group
    • 7. 1. Individual Understanding the Design Challenge • Active listening to a presentation about the context of problem • Ask participants to jot notes on sticky notes
    • 8. 2a. Group Understanding of the Design Challenge Affinity Cluster • Participants add notes to wall and sort them • Facilitator sorts and add “Buckets” in discussion with group • Don’t get to granular – broad sort
    • 9. 2b. Group Understanding of the Design Challenge Affinity Cluster • Review buckets and refine sort , sub categories • Facilitator asks clarifying questions • Avoid “stuck” trying to sort into too specific categories or too broad or where there is disagreement
    • 10. 2C. Group Synthesis of Design Questions Affinity Cluster • Ask participates to frame problem as questions • Rapid brainstorm
    • 11. 3. Small Teams: Structured Brainstorm – Set Up • Teams pick four questions and tweak – for column headers • Rows are ways to implement the ideas • Use “Wild Card” to add categories or questions
    • 12. 3. Small Teams: Structured Brainstorm • Generate as many ideas of possible • Quantity over quality • Don’t reject or be negative • Count number of ideas from each team • Limit to 15 minutes
    • 13. 4. Prioritize Best Ideas: Importance/Difficulty • Pick 3-5 best ideas • Rate on a horizontal line of importance • Facilitator draws 2x2 • Rate on difficulty
    • 14. 5. Team Synthesis • Teams create a synthesis using a “Making” process • Focus on one idea or combine • Time to discuss, time to create poster • Facilitator is time keeper
    • 15. 6. Debrief Ideas/Prioritize • Teams present ideas to full group • Voting – best overall concept and best details • Debrief
    • 16. Thank you! @kanter on Twitter