Some Learnings from Human Centred Design


A few weeks back at Faith in Action we enjoyed hearing from Esther Sugihto around the idea of Human Centred Design.

Living with a designer myself I have often been surprised at how helpful the way designers think about and see the world is in community development.  Thinking like a designer can transform the way we develop products, services, processes, and strategies in ways that are often more creative and cheaper.

Design thinking is a deeply human process that taps into abilities we all have but get overlooked by more conventional problem-solving practices. -IDEO

My biggest takeaways from our time with Esther were:

  1. The benefit of testing the market before committing to something.  Design thinking says: “yes, that may be a great idea but why don’t we try testing it in a small, cheap and short-term way first and then refining it for greatest success.” For example we looked at a Church entrance and brainstormed a dozen ways of making it more welcoming.  Then considered how we might start small in trialling some of these (one pastor rightly called this “experimenting”) and then how we may “iterate” or refine and grow these as we go.
  2. The benefit of doing our best to avoid jumping to conclusive outcomes.  If we determine that we need a new door we might never consider other options for making the entrance more welcoming.
  3. The ability of this process to address big themes but with micro interventions.  The big theme was welcome, hospitality and openness to the community.  The micro intervention might begin with a few balloons tied to the front doorway.
  4. The need to acknowledge that nothing is ever finished.  There will always be more that we can do to improve our process.
  5. The need for processes like this that allow the whole community to contribute – all ideas get decided on by the group and therefore owned well and change is therefore easier.
  6. The importance to start from child-like attitude- willing to try a bunch of things. Communities need to have time to settle on things so these slowly growing processes allow people to be comfortable.
  7. The need for processes like this that help us think beyond fear of failure.  This process creates a kind of “Karaoke Confidence” in its really out there creativity – helping to foster and absence of fear of failure and judgement because of the malleability of the process and room for iteration and change.

If you are curious about the process of Human Centred Design why not check out Esther’s blog or download the free IDEO HCD toolkit and have a play.

Have you had an experience with this process?  How did you find it?


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