Guest blog by Aggrey Mutimba, Internews in Kenya
Aggrey Mutimba is a Data Researcher with Internews in Kenya. He is co-leading the WeLearn initiative using Human Centered Design to improve sub-grant relationships on the Health Media Project, together with Bellah Mikangi.
“Welcome to human centered design!” These are not my words but the words of Bellah Mikangi an administrator at Internews in Kenya while giving her concluding remarks after taking us through the process of redesigning the gift giving experience. Nairobi staff had gathered for a retreat this November and one interesting thing we noted was the excitement in their faces after the challenge to redesign a gift giving experience for their partners.
The goal of this exercise was to make the lives of their partners they were designing for better. The HCD process emphasizes prototyping, sharing unfinished products, and iterative interviewing skills to best learn how to empathize with the person for whom you design.
Design thinking draws on methods from fields like engineering and design, and combines them with the arts, the social sciences, and the business world and therefore leading to creation of prototypes. Bony Odinga, a social and citizen media expert says, “The session allowed me to hook inward and think about my colleagues in a more engaging way”. Samuel Musila, an IT assistant says, “Gaining empathy is like reading books of the mind like never before”. Kennedy, an office assistant says, “The best thing I have learnt this year!” Carole Njoroge, a staff at Internews says, “It was a very good experience to go through in that it helped me learn to be a critical listener and evaluate issues as I continue to provide solutions – would recommend it to anyone, anytime”.
At the beginning of the session, a brief introduction to what Human Centered Design is was done and all the members of staff were guided through the design thinking process by Bellah and I using resources provided by Internews Center of Innovation & Learning. We give a big gratitude to Tara Susman-Peña, the Center Senior Researcher, for building our capacity to be able to undertake such an immense and exciting exercise with the rest of the staff members, we also give a big thanks to Ida Jooste the Country Director for her leadership.
Internews in Kenya is using Human Centered Design (HCD) to boost effectiveness of all processes with its implementing partners. Through our creativity, we used the same approach in the retreat with a goal to make each other’s lives better. As Edward de Bono – a Maltese physician, author, inventor and consultant said, “Creative thinking is not a talent it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.”