Can a Bajaji Change a Teen Girl’s Life?
Thursday, July 2, 2015
“Human-centered design has a role in solving every problem,” says Pam Scott, a serial design thinker whose career has wended from advertising to customer research to a board seat at IDEO.org to a current chapter that might be dubbed activist philanthropy. A born connector, Scott has spent nearly three decades working at the intersection of design and impact, and much of her power lies at getting the right people in the room and prompting them to ask — and answer — the right questions.
“It’s only from a place of deep empathy and connection, that you can have real impact. That’s our creative starting point,” says Scott of what is at the base of a methodology that marries a handful of cutting-edge techniques resulting in a “new form of human-centered design that not only deeply engages community members in the creative process, but also the NGO that serves that community.”
Scott, one of a growing number of female philanthropists inspired to focus on women and girls, chose to sponsor a project with PSI to address unintended pregnancy in Tanzania. “It’s very unpopular. Acknowledging that unmarried teens can be sexually active is a lightning rod issue, leaving a good number of donors less inclined to support teen pregnancy prevention,” she says. “I wanted to take some risks and I knew the best partner to do that would be PSI.”
“First, I did a six-month third-party data review,” she says, “to build on an insight my colleagues at IDEO.org shared: ‘Teens do not believe that family planning clinics are for them, largely because they aren’t planning a family.’ Everything I studied supported this insight. I also discovered that programs all over the world treated unintended teen pregnancy as a medical challenge. And it’s not. It’s a social challenge with a medical component. Knowing that, I knew we had to understand the social context in which unintended teen pregnancies exist. And the only way I know how to do that is to talk to teens and all of those who satellite around them.”
Over the summer of 2014, Scott began to design a creative process to take on the challenge. She wanted to involve great thinkers from PSI, other social sector organizations and for-profit institutions to develop fresh approaches. She believed there was an opportunity to disrupt the traditional approach to adolescent reproductive health by making it more teen-friendly and ultimately impactful.
By fall, she had enlisted PSI board member Rebecca Van Dyck, a tribe of IDEO.org designers (led by creative director Patrice Martin) and her husband former Yahoo! CEO Tim Koogle to join her in partnering with PSI Tanzania’s Susan Mukasa and her team on the effort. Together they would conduct a week long design immersion in Bagamoyo, Tanzania.