Scott Anderson

Weekly Roundup: HCD Connect Takes Human-Centered Design to the Hive

I was recently asked to offer my opinion as part of a benchmarking study. The question was which online social enterprise platforms I considered the most successful.

I’m far from an expert and I told the survey taker that, but she wanted my opinion anyway. After hemming and hawing a a while, I narrowed my list to two: Kiva and KickStarter.

Each has a goal of fundraising, but their relative strengths lie in their ability to marshal and harness communities. Had I been asked this same question three months from now, I may well have included HCD Connect in the mix.

Launched on Wednesday with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and – the nonprofit initative from design firm IDEO, which I previously wrote about here – HCD Connect is a new hive for problem solvers. The platform aims to make human centered design relatable, understandable and infinitely shareable. It builds on the success of the HCD Toolkit, a roadmap for helping nonprofits and social enterprises focused on low-income people and communities to develop new systems, products and outcomes. The multi-disciplinary toolkit walks users through a “hear, create, deliver” process that keeps the beneficiary or the customer at the center of the solution. According the Gates Foundation, the HCD Toolkit has been downloaded 74,000 times. The Gates Foundation blog also notes the case of Nick Pearson, of Jacaranda Health, used the HCD Toolkit to help the maternal health care focused organization prepare to launch its first Nairobi-based clinic later this month.

HCD Connect takes the toolkit to the next level, with focus areas ranging from community development to energy to financial services to water. Its goal is to accelerate the idea crafting by allowing users to pose ideas and ask questions. The platform not only presents popular questions, but unanswered ones.

But what I like about this system is it re-enforces a basic supposition in business: Know your customer. But how do you get to know them? What’s the process for getting to know them? And how do you keep them in the loop of your strategy from beginning to end? HCD Connect seems have the answers for many of those questions, or at least can connect you to someone who does.

So what are your favorite online social enterprise platforms? Let us know.

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