Ensuring human-centered design meets social sector needs

Ensuring human-centered design meets social sector needs

// By Jacqueline Brennan

Human-centered design grows ever-more important as the social sector struggles to do more with less, and sector leaders search for new and different ways to gain greater access to the communities they serve. But how do you identify a designer who is aligned and in-tune with your organization’s mission and needs?

George Aye, co-founder and director of innovation at Greater Good Studio, spent many years in the commercial design industry, but found he had to “unlearn” a lot when he transitioned to a human-centered design company the fully works in the social sector. What did George discover through the process that can help your organization select a designer who can best support your efforts to bring those you serve closer to the center of your work? You’ll be able to find out during George’s Upswell workshop.

“I noticed in my transition from commercial design to social sector design just how much I’ve had to unlearn about design, and how much needed to be heavily adapted for the social sector. I think that a lot of social sector leaders may not realize that designers often don’t know how to make the transition that well, and that really stresses me out,” George said.

“I thought, ‘somebody really has to talk about this’. So the title of my talk reflects the phenomenon I often see – one group seeking help, and another group offering help, but they don’t know how to do it — and they’re on a collision course with each other. I think that has the potential for a real recipe for disaster, and that’s why I want to talk about it.”

According to George, while there is a great appreciation for designers, there are aspects that make for a great fit with the social sector, and there are questions that organizations should ask to be more mindful and better educate consumers.

“If they’re looking for a car, that’s one thing. But when you’re working and advocating for vulnerable populations, you’re already very cautious of who you work with. And sometimes in the design field there can be a lot of hand-waving and use of fancy, obfuscating terms. I want to pierce through that nonsense so that social sector leaders can better interrogate who they’re talking to in the field and make better choices overall.”

He’s looking forward to talking with changemakers about power and privilege. “So much of the design field is ignorant around power, its impact, and how it has shaped the social sector so much. Facilitated discussion helps bring to the surface lots of internal questioning and self-reflection: ‘What is my relationship to power? How much power by default are we giving away? How much power do we have by default by our communities? And how do we wield it with care?’”

When Design Collides with the Social Sector is happening Wednesday, November 13 form 3-5pm.

1600 900 Jacqueline Brennan
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