"Being a human-centered designer is about believing that as long as you stay grounded in what you’ve learned from people, your team can arrive at new solutions that the world needs." /IDEO/
Real innovation can only take place if there is some sort of paradigm shift may that be within a specific team of young startuppers or corporations.
We, at edUcate, promote the principles of Design Thinking and teach our students to implement this methodology in all areas from product/service design to communication.
What is human-centered design?
Really all it means is putting the people you are serving front and center - learning from them and working in collaboration to develop the most authentic and powerful results. In the case of IDEO and IDEO.org for instance, they are working with people and organizations to solve poverty, hunger, and other large-scale world problems. But these same techniques and processes can be used to guide communications strategy for non-profit organizations.
Human-centered design frames the process a company/start-up facilitates with clients at the start of new projects, during what is called "the discovery phase". Sometimes, this may seem like doing a 'strategic art therapy' but ultimately, it is using art, design and the creative process to develop stronger, cohesive and more thoughtful communications strategies grounded in the core values of the clients' missions.
The discovery process is also referred to as 'sponge phase' because it is an opportunity to absorb as much information about clients, their work, and their communities as one can.
The goal is to become the expert facilitator and guide rather than 'tell' clients what they need to do.
By working together and helping clients tap into their own creativity, inspiration and passion, we are able to develop brand and communications strategies that are more powerful, authentic and ultimately engaging to constituents.
Tips & resources for applying human-centered design to communication strategy
1) Understand the core values of the organization & define what success looks and feels like. This can often be more complicated than you would think. Maybe programs are changing or there is a shift in organizational culture... Using design thinking to revitalize your brand and then mood-boarding your vision (individually or as a group) can be a really effective way to regain consensus among key stakeholders.
2) Identify who the target audiences are and develop your personas. This can be a tricky task. You need to allow yourselves to cast your net broadly before narrowing down.
3) Establish the paths/workflows/journeys your organization wants community members to take toward specified end-goals. Think through the transformation of each persona.
At edUcate, we believe all people from diverse fields can benefit greatly from applying Design Thinking in their work. During our skill development programs, we put great emphasis on innovation and creative problem-solving relying strongly on the principles of human-centered design.
Our goal is to help young professionals develop the skills and mindset needed to be successful in the future of work, let it be in the corporate or startup sector.