News and blog posts from our students and faculty

Design for Impact Boot Camp

Sunday, April 25th, 2010 | Posted by AC4D

On April 24th, a multidisciplinary team of 22 designers, technologists, and students took part in an all day Design for Impact Boot Camp. Co-sponsored by AC4D and frog design, the day-long educational experience was intended to introduce a high level process for approaching large-scale social problems, and the challenges associated with these types of problems. Additionally, the Boot Camp provided a framework in which to experience the research, synthesis and ideation processes as related to design for impact, and introduced the vocabulary necessary to speak about strategic design work, in the context of designing for impact.

    The boot camp was held at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, and with the generous facility support of Front Steps, the group was able to perform guerrilla ethnography with the homeless, the shelter security, the various volunteers, and the staff that work at Front Steps.

    You can browse through some of the lecture material that was introduced during the day:

    An introduction to Designing for Impact, by Jon Kolko. In a group conversation, participants examined the precedents that have been set in the social innovation space, discussed the holistic process of design, and began to understand why the methods of design are most appropriate for tackling these complex social problems.

    A Process for Seeing: Guerrilla Ethnography, by Lauren Serota. In the first session, the group talked about how to practice guerrilla ethnography, by using sketching visualization methods, rapid photography, and in-context conversations in order to engage with target audiences. Then, in groups, the participants tackled a design problem related to the context of poverty in Austin, Texas – and engaged the community by practicing the guerilla ethnography methods just discussed.

    Understanding Insights and Themes, by Jon Freach. As the group began meaning-making,  insights and themes began to emerge. Jon described how to capture high-level takeaways from research, and how to form actionable design directives out of these conceptual frames. Then, participants extracted insights and themes, and positioned these elements in the context of the initial design brief – designing for impact, and producing new products, systems and services.

    Externalization and Rapid Modeling, by Matt Schoenholz. The group focused on how to externalize this data and form visual representations of it. We modeled the data gathered, and created representations to capture the high level takeaways from the streets in order to build frameworks for creating new idea.

    Rapid Ideation, by Justin Petro. The insights and themes that have been extracted were then visualized. Justin introduced a structured form of ideation in order to focus on a new ideas, and described how to connect these new ideas to potential sources of funding, in order to understand their feasibility. [worksheets here]

    Here are some pictures of the day:

    We’ll have the actual design ideas presented on the site in a few days – and we’ll be sure to post when the next Design for Impact Boot Camp is coming up.

    Creative designers typically produce stuff – toasters, websites, airplanes, and cell phones – for mass production by large, for-profit corporations. These designers frequently bemoan what they observe to be a misappropriation of their talent – that their creative efforts are misguided, and the hard work and energy they are putting into product development is lacking integrity or honesty. Rarely does their work have a humanitarian element to it; the corporations that hire designers are fundamentally interested in appeasing their shareholders.

    Designing for Impact is an overt redirection of these creative design efforts, in order to tackle the large-scale humanitarian problems that plague our country and our world. The design process is purposefully applied to issues of poverty, access to clean drinking water, equality of education, and other large problems, and the outcome is a combination of products, services, and systems that are intended to better the human experience.

    After taking part in the boot camp participants will have:

    Acquired a high level process for approaching large-scale social problems, and understanding of the challenges associated with these types of problemsExperienced the research, synthesis and ideation processes as related to design for impactGained empathy with a target, at-risk populationAcquired the introductory vocabulary to speak about strategic design work, in the context of designing for impact

    2 Comments »
    • http://www.twitter.com/texasbrat Charity Colvin

      I had so much fun at the boot camp and it was a true pleasure working with such talented individuals. There were so many awesome ideas and so much positive energy. I have been revived in my career and am excited to seek out the program. Jon great job on the photos.

    • http://www.erinivey.com erin ivey

      WOW! this is so great. we are lucky to have you in Austin.