For those unfamiliar with IDEO, they are one of the world’s leading design and innovation agencies. They champion ‘design thinking’ as a methodology and approach that sits at the centre of their work. Design thinking as CEO Tim brown puts it is: “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Ideo use this process very successfully to consult many of the world’s leading brands on how to transform the way they develop products, services, processes, and strategy. IDEO.org is Ideo’s non-profit organization that uses the exact same approach to create ‘human-centered design’ solutions for Nonprofits, Social Enterprises and Foundations. In 2010 they launched the hugely successful OpenIDEO, an open innovation platform allowing people to collaborate and solve some of the world’s biggest challenges for social good and at the beginning of this month they launched their new platform funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, HCD Connect .
In 2009 IDEO decided to distill all their learnings from a decade of working with a human-centered design methodology into a series of free to download PDFs that they called ‘The Human-Centered Design Toolkit.” The idea behind the toolkit is to specifically empower social enterprises and NGOs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by giving them their field-tested tools for social impact in a way that focuses more on sharing information than authorship. So far the kit has been downloaded more than 74,000 times and has lead to incredible social innovations such as the HeartStart defibrillator, CleanWell natural antibacterial products, and the Blood Donor System for the Red Cross — all of which have enhanced the lives of millions of people.
Now, with HCD Connect IDEO.org are opening the Toolkit and its processes to individuals as well as organizations. Through the new platform new users can connect with other like minded practitioners by setting up a story page so they can share their own work and projects. User story pages include an overview of the project, the location and focus area of the social work (health, gender equity, education etc.) and what methods were employed to support the work. As users start to share their stories and connect with one another IDEO.org hopes that they can build on each others’ ideas to build their projects co-creatively. And in the very near future members will be able to apply for micro grants to help manifest their project solutions.
It’s another very exciting venture from IDEO, harnessing the power of human centered design for social innovation. Given the success of openIDEO, this is definitely a project to watch for 2012 and beyond.
For an excellent example of Human-Centered design in action watch the video of IDEO’s Jeff Chappin TEDxChange talk ‘Design as a tool for better conversations’.