Dec 30, 2009

IDEO's Human Centered Design Toolkit - A MUST READ and a great resource!

Update 12/3/12:  The IDEO HCD Toolkit is available for download, but you will need to sign up in order to download the free 105-page copy on the IDEO  HCD Connect website.

The 105-page document is a great resource from IDEO, a global design consultancy.  It is clearly written and contains a variety of pictures, charts, and diagrams that facilitate the understanding of concepts.  A 61-page field guide is also available for download, and provides support for facilitators of design projects to lead group meetings and individual interviews. It includes exercises that teams should complete before going out into the field.

"Why Human-Centered Design?"
"Because it can help your organization connect better with the people you serve.  It can transform data into actionable ideas.  It can help you to see new opportunities.  It can help to increase the speed and effectiveness of creating new solutions." -IDEO

The HCD Toolkit, 2nd Edition, was prepared for use by organizations that work with communities of need, primarily in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, which is important for high school students to know about, particularly those who are pretty sure about pursuing further education in a technology-related field.  

I also think that exposure to concepts related to human-centered design focused on work in developing countries would be helpful to encourage more female students to enroll in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) courses.  (This still is a significant problem. Both of the high schools I work at have very few girls in the computer programming classes, even though both schools have at least one female who teaches programming!)

At any rate, I think this toolkit should be a MUST READ for anyone interested in emerging technologies and human-centered design, anywhere on the planet. It transcends the concept of "design as a job that must be done" to something that can facilitate broader innovation across organizations, our communities, and the world.

The toolkit is full of tidbits of wisdom:

"Tip 1" (addresses the measurement of outcomes, akin to the "miracle question" used in solution-focused therapy/counseling/consulting.)
"Ask yourself what you would expect to see happening if the solutions were improving the lives of people. For example, if your goal was to increase household income, would women starting more businesses be an early indicator? If your goal was to increase childhood vaccinations, would the number of casual conversations about vaccines be a possible indicator?" -page 99
"Tip 2"
"It is critical to track the effects of solutions on men and women, young and old, empowered and disempowered – even if your ideas are focused on other groups. Often the group that is not the intended audience for the solutions is a key player in the implementation and use of solutions." -page 99

The toolkit also provides useful cautions:
"Watch Out"
"Often teams look for only the positive and intended consequences. To get a full view of impact, it is critical to challenge yourself to look for the negative and unintended
consequences of solutions." -page 99

The toolkit provides specific strategies, including helpful worksheets and forms, and good advice about story sharing, prototyping, identification of patterns, and so forth. Below is an example:


-IDEO, via Fast Company
Note:  The Human-Centered Design Toolkit was developed with the International Development Enterprises (IDE), Heifer International, ICRW, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

RELATED (and somewhat related)
Design Thinking for Social Innovation (Stanford Social Innovation Review,Tim Brown & Jocelyn Wyatt, Winter 2010)
IDEO's Guide to Designing for Social Impact
About IDEO:
Founded in 1991, IDEO is a global innovation and design firm that uses a human-centered, design-based approach to help organizations in the business, governments, education, healthcare, and social sectors grow and innovate.
Open-Source Innovation:  IDEO's Human-Centered Design Toolkit (Fast Company, Allisa Walker, 7/7/09)
Video: CEO of IDEO, Tim Brown, on Creativity, Play, and Innovation
(Touches on how our schools and work environments can and do suck out our playfulness and creativity, and provides interesting, simple suggestions.)

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