3 Lessons From Ideo For Designing The Best Social Enterprises

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If you follow the design world, the name Ideo should sound familiar to you. The consultancy firm has worked on major products for some of the biggest companies in the world including Apple, PepsiCo, and Microsoft. But a little over a year ago, Ideo decided providing design solutions for corporate giants wasn’t enough, so they helped form a separate nonprofit organization called Ideo.org focused solely on delivering the firm’s unique human-centered design to nonprofits, social enterprises, and charitable organizations.

When Fast Company last spoke to Ideo.org, it was still awaiting its official launch. Now over a year later, Co.Exist caught up with Ideo.org’s Executive Director Jocelyn Wyatt and Creative Director Patrice Martin about the lessons they’ve learned from the organization’s first projects about what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to designing for nonprofits.

1: Understand the Community You’re Serving

Perhaps the most important element to nonprofit design, according to Wyatt and Martin, is to know who you’re trying to help before even taking pad to paper on initial prototypes. “I think it takes real deep humility to go to places that we may not intuitively know, and understand what motivates them, what are their behaviors, and be open and committed to learning that,” Martin says. When Ideo.org partnered with the World Bank to help connect low-income Mexicans to better financial services, Martin says, “We didn’t start and say, ‘Okay, how do we get savings products into the hands of the poor?’ Instead, we said, ‘Let’s really understand low-income people’s lives, how they relate to money, and how we can then appropriately design services that respond to this.’” Through that process, they discovered that while low-income families don’t always use deposit accounts for savings, they are active savers when it comes to preparing for big expenses like their children’s education.

Source: Fast Company (link opens in a new window)

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