Posted by: acbuildingblocks | August 6, 2012

Empathy, Creativity, & Rationality: “Food to Families” Redesigns the Gift Giving Experience

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Keeping up with the programmatic daily details can make it difficult to take a step back and analyze our projects with a new perspective, to tackle challenges in new ways. To honor new perspectives, representatives** from each F2F program did just that at our quarterly meeting on July 18. During the meeting we focused on Design Thinking methodology.

What is Design Thinking? What is Human Centered Design (HCD)? Design thinking or Human-Centered Design (HCD), as defined by IDEO, is a process and a set of techniques used to create new solutions for the world. Solutions include products, services, environments, organizations, and modes of interaction.

The reason this process is called “human-centered” is because the client, those we are designing for should always remain in clear view of the solution. The HCD process begins by examining the needs, dreams, and behaviors of the people we want to affect with our solutions. *By working closely with the clients and consumers, design thinking allows high-impact solutions to bubble up from below rather than being imposed from the top.

As a style of thinking, it is generally considered the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context.

To set the stage, Jessica, Food to Families project manager, suggests to the group “Let’s lay out the Ground Rules for the meeting: No judgment, no wrong answers, and use beginners mind, think of your three-year-old children or grandchildren.” Next, “work with someone you do not usually work with.”

In today’s meeting, action precedes explanation. We are using Stanford University’s D. School Bootcamp to redesign and then prototype “the gift giving experience.”  You might be thinking, how do you prototype a service or experience? As we learned at the meeting, it can be done!

Go ahead look at the top of this blog at the photos. Initially, what may have seemed like an elementary school art class filled with balloons, tape, and glue, all arranged into funky craft projects are actually our prototypes. Our ideas, informed by our user (partner) turned into a tangible experience. The thought here is to get the idea into the users hands and let them figure out what is going on and give you feedback. Design thinking all about feedback. You create, check-in with the user, tweak, recreate… the process is ever-evolving. The purpose of this experience is to teach people to empathize with their users.

While working at recreating a user’s gift giving experience one may find that the issue has nothing to do with gift giving and more about the emotions and daily life of their user.

Two participants Monica Monterroso (Mandela MarketPlace) and Carlos Londono (Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center) had a great partnership. In Carlos -Monica’s scenario, Monica was able to get to the root of his concerns, holding up Monica’s prototype designed just for him he announces she gave me “the power to stop time!” Trust me, I believe Monica got to the root of all of our concerns, we could all use a watch that stops time (despite the implications this would have on physics as we currently understand it)!

The meeting concluded with a brief brainstorming session of ways each site, Ashland Cherryland and West Oakland, could apply human-centered design theory into practice. While they can’t grant everyone a watch that stops time I believe they will come up with some innovative ways to address concerns in their programs and communities.

By Deja Kono, a Food to Families (F2F) Intern

* Design Thinking for Social Innovation | Stanford Social Innovation Review

Interested in running your own Design Thinking Bootcamp? Click Here!

* *Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center: Martha Estrella, Lori Baptista, Carlos Londono, Genny Maling

Dig Deep Farms & Produce: Hank Herrera, Tammy Wakerling,

West Oakland Health Council: Norma Mason, Telia Jones

Mandela MarketPlace: Monica Monterroso

ACPHD: Jessica Luginbuhl, Liz Maker, Nora Downs, Deja Kono

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