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People-Driven Design

Empatika takes the concept of human-centred design, or Co-Design, a step further to make explicit that people (the users) are engaged directly in identifying their own challenges, setting goals and developing their own ideas to facilitate positive change.

Human-centered design (HCD) or Co-Design revolves around the concept of putting people at the center of ideas, services and products, ensuring that these solutions speak to the needs, priorities and circumstances of the intended end users. Our approach, people-driven design (PDD), helps people develop processes and products that can support positive change in their communities. As part of this process, we link insights from immersion and other qualitative research to co-design processes at the local level with community members, providing a strong basis for developing highly contextualised, practical solutions that can support positive change.

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A PDD workshop with adolescents in Banten, Indonesia

PDD aims to first ensure a shared understanding of the obstacles that exist, and that the intended change is desired. Second, the PDD process is focused on developing ideas and solutions that are relevant, embedded in people’s everyday lives, and ‘owned’ by the participants and subsequently the wider community. PDD can be particularly powerful for behaviour change. Our facilitation for PDD workshops encourages fun and uses interactive activities as a means to unlock creativity and think beyond standard responses.

Empatika pushes to have PDD workshops as a follow-up to formative or exploratory research. In addition to giving us a much deeper contextual understanding of challenges at the local level and possible solutions to explore, it also aids in relationship building. Typically, the same researchers who undertake exploratory research in a particular community return to facilitate the PDD process. In these workshops, facilitators take participants through insights from the research phase and lead an ‘inspiration' process where a deeper understanding of needs and priorities is surfaced and shared. During the ‘ideation’ or design process, groups work together to co-create solution concepts through the generation of masses of ideas. Groups then select the most promising ideas to be developed further. They will look to identify potential bottlenecks, problems in implementation and revise any designs to mitigate these issues, resulting in a few ‘prototypes’ to test out in the community during the trialing phase.

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Another key part of designing and planning PDD workshops is determining the participants, and tailoring this according to the local context. Often, participants include a mix of those people change is targeted towards along with some from a support network, such as local service providers.

Designing with people, rather than for them. These people-first approaches can improve the quality of designing policy and programming and help ensure they are not only 'evidence-based,' but also 'people-based.’

Watch our video below about People-Driven Design, made as part of our project on 'Innovating for Stunting Reduction' in Indonesia.

PDD process in Papua for a study on the social determinants of access to Malaria services

From HDD to PDD

In our 2019 study on Maternal and Child Nutrition Empatika developed our approach to People-Driven Design as part of a study on Maternal and Infant Nutrition in Indonesia. This project, in collaboration with Alive & Thrive, sought to develop Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) strategies for addressing the problem of stunting and nutrition in Indonesia. Following immersion research across six districts, Empatika carried out PDD workshops first internally in Jakarta, and then in each location to explore challenges identified by community members themselves during the immersion.

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Internal PDD workshop and planning in Jakarta

These challenges were highly contextual and were oriented around areas that people wanted to change. After communities conceptualised and prototyped a solution in each location, they then trialled the prototype independently over a number of weeks.

Researchers returned again to communities following the testing phase to discuss progress, lessons learned so far, potential strategies for continuing/wider implementation of their solution(s) along with a reflection about the overall research and PDD process.

The following are some examples from this study of the PDD process and the solutions generated by community members (click on each image for more information):