Introduction to preparation
Now, you’ve done your planning and you are ready to hit the road. What does that actually mean?
In reality, it means that the whole codesign experience for you, your team and the participants starts from the first moment you get in touch with them. In co-design in I4C we want to bring people who are affected by the issue into the room in some way, shape or form, whether that’s surveying to get people’s opinions, whether that’s having people join us for the entire co-design process, but that’s really important. Preparation and understanding who it is that you want to bring together into the room. And when you’re doing that thinking about the diversity, could it be a civil technologist that already has a solution that could help you or just brings that technology perspective. Is it a particular lawyer or activist? Is it somebody in the private sector who is doing interesting work with social enterprises for example? Or indeed it could be a local government official or a national government official who shares the values of the work that we’re trying to do together.
Never forget that you’re running a co-design process not only for reaching your objectives but for the participants. What are their needs? And what do you need to know about those participants? What experiences do they have? What knowledge could they share if you’re doing some preparatory desk research before the session? Do they know they need to know are they going to need good internet connection, laptops if you’re working online for example? And you also need to think through how they could safely meet face to face if that’s possible particularly during this period of COVID and changing regulations in different countries.
When engaging different partners and CSOs in co-design, be as clear as possible about what their role will be after the solution is designed. Keep in mind that you might face a behavior of competition or ownership among the CSOs sector in your country. If there is money involved: be clear from the very start, who gets access to it, whose ideas are implemented etc. The challenge is observed in different contexts and highlighting empathy and the big picture is really important because co-design support collaboration and the joint interest of many.
It’s that really, I guess, trying to balance the fact that getting the right participants in the room, designing a thoughtful strategy for that workshop, creating that space for co-design, and then investing the time in co-design does take some time, but it doesn’t take that much more time than a board meeting or a training workshop. Yet, for me, the power of the potential impact of that is on a different scale. So I think that’s a real challenge that I had to face at CIVICUS and the I4C Network. I mean, I understand, time is very precious and lots of people have competing priorities, but good co-design doesn’t take any longer than really average strategy or programme design. It’s exactly the amount of time, but the potential for impact and the potential for innovation is far greater.
If you are a great facilitator, you should be adapting your methodology and your workshop logic and your plan based on your context, because that’s at the crux of this whole human-centred thing. Who are your humans that you’re providing a space for?
So it’s that really, I guess, trying to balance the fact that getting the right participants in the room, designing a thoughtful strategy for that workshop, creating that space for co-design and then investing the time in co-design does take some time, but it doesn’t take that much more time than a board meeting or a training workshop. Yet, for me, the power of the potential impact of that is on a different scale. So I think that’s a real challenge that I had to face at CIVICUS and the I4C Network. I mean, I understand, time is very precious and lots of people have competing priorities, but good co-design doesn’t take any longer than really average strategy or programme design. It’s exactly the amount of time, but the potential for impact and the potential for innovation is far greater.
So I think going in with an understanding of the participants in the space. So being aware of existing political cultural power dynamics, things like that, doing a little bit of research on the space you’re trying to create for, I think is really important-
Now, let’s start with a short self-assessment (for facilitators – at heart and skill)
Self-assessment for co-design facilitators
Self-Assessment for Facilitators
In order to carry out the Design Thinking methodology, you need to be a good facilitator. Being a good facilitator looks many ways in the context of Design Thinking, so we invite you to use this self-assessment to reflect on your facilitation styles, experiences and learnings. This assessment will also help you to understand in what ways you’re able to support participants given the strengths and gaps in your skills.
For the following questions, indicate 1 if none or 5 if high:
Facilitator Competency Scores
If you scored:
Congratulations on your result! You’ve used this self-assessment to check where you’re currently at as a facilitator. This assessment isn’t the end of the exercise, though. You’ll need to regularly reflect on your facilitation skills, especially in different contexts, as they’re likely going to change. You can always come back to this assessment to evaluate what you’re doing well and what areas you need to work on.
Take the leap + frame the challenge
Framing the challenge allows you to spell out the specific problem you want to solve. A well-framed challenge provides a starting point for the entire process. It guides your investigations in the discovery process and puts you on a path to innovative solutions. In this initial attempt, your challenge will represent a hypothesis that can, and should evolve. In other words, don’t get too emotionally attached to the framing of the challenge – you will have to change it – and that’s the beauty of it.
Describe the issue you’ve identified and ask your team or partners to do that too. This may be just a hunch based on observation or experience, or it can be informed by past research or project data – you need all the hunches you can get. If you identify more than one problem, describe each one and then prioritize based on the organization’s needs and the opportunity each of the problems might present for your participants at the codesign. Take the leap in trusting each input you get and discussing it in detail. As you begin discussing the issues to address, you will likely come up with or hear many intriguing solutions. Try to actively block those processes and allow the focus to be ONLY on the challenge and understanding the challenge. Acknowledge all great ideas by creating a “parking lot”—a list on a sheet of scratch paper or posted on the wall. You will want to revisit the parking lot ideas afterwards.
Desk research + participant surveys + participant interviews
Desk Research or Secondary Research is research that other people conducted for a different project, social challenge or purpose. However, the data the prior researchers collected is relevant to what you are trying to tackle in your codesign. Desk research is important to gather information about the context and the problem you will be working with, in order to be prepared for the workshop. It’s important that the research doesn’t give us a pre-conception of the problem. Working with experts in the field could be useful to have a better understanding of the context.
“In the South Cone Innovation Lab that we developed in March 2021, we did a desk research to gather more information about the topic, so that participants could understand what the lab would be about. The topic was transparency in the access of resources, so we looked up papers, researches and news about the topic. It was hard to find information about our specific region, since most of the information we found was global or country analysis. In that sense, it was important for us to have an organization that works with this topic in the organization of the lab, to help us analyze the information we gathered.” Victoria from I4C LAC HUB
Tools that can help your research:
- CIVICUS Lens
- CIVICUS Monitor
- Google Scholar: A great source of academic papers or reports by universities.
- ResearchGate: A handy resource for scientific or academic papers.
- Voicebot: Trends and reports specifically on AI and Voice.
- Charity Choice: Free reports of charities.
- The Guardian’s “What I’m Really Thinking” Series: Dives into the social science of what people in certain situations think or feel.
But don’t only look externally – look also internally, in your team, in your partners, donors, communities of practice. Short talks/interviews with your internal constituents might give you far reaching insights into the challenge and make your work far easier.
Spotlight on LAC HUB
“In the experience of the LAC Hub we used surveys before innovation labs to get information about the participantes, mainly their age, if they were working in a ngo or in another type of organization, why they were interested in participating, if they have participated in events like this before and how they define “innovation”. These questions were useful to know if participants were interested in the process or in the topic of the lab and if they were familiarized with this type of activity. The information provided was also useful to create diverse groups in terms of age, experience, gender. In cases where we had to limit the registrations to a certain amount, the answers were useful to select the participants.
In our experience, it was important to learn what participants understand as innovation, in order to explain that during the lab and have a group understanding of the concept. What’s more, from the answers we discovered that most of the participants were interested in participating in the lab to learn the methodology, but most of them didn’t know about the topic, so that was also something important to bear in mind during the lab.
For this survey we used a form on the registration page. The problem with that was that the developers of the page were the ones that received the answers, so we needed to wait for them to send the answer sheet everyday. In other cases we usually use google form, which is easier to work with and get the answer and participants are familiarized with it.
At the end of the lab we also share a survey to gather information about the experience of the participants. It’s important to have the surveys ready before the activity ends, so that participants can answer them with the information they have in mind. If you wait more days in sending them, participants may forget the details of their experience. It is also important to define the questions in order to gather the information that will be useful to understand participants’ experience and also information that will be able to process. The problem with after-event surveys is that not all the participants fill them. In that sense, it’s important to ask questions during the process, through zoom or menti.”
In the experience of the Lac Hub, we used in depth interviews after innovation labs, to learn more about the experience of the participants. We don’t have experience in doing interviews before the lab.
In the case of after-event interviews, it’s a useful tool to get to know the experience of the participants from their own voices. During the interviews participants usually provide more details than they do in a survey. In our case, the interviews were developed by the mentors that were supporting each team. That was very important, since participants have been working with the mentors for several days, so they have already established a trust and confident relationship. It’s essential that the participants feel comfortable and safe during the interviews, so they can express themselves. In one of the labs, and with the permission of the participants, we used the interviews to create podcasts, which is also a good way to share the experiences of the lab.
Something important to bear in mind is to have the time to process and analyze all the information from the interviews. In our case, we listen and transcribe them. It was great to learn from their experience but it was also time consuming, so it’s important to have the time to dedicate to do this.
Review + recap
1. Develop a checklist for items/documents/final preps that need to be taken into account, structured in categories.
2. Other important steps:
· Choose your co-design format;
· Facilitation team size (internal implementation capacities);
· Define number of sessions;
· Resources and tools used;
· Design your dev evaluation approach;
· Think of energizers, ice breakers, event design overall.