This second post in a three part series on bringing your audiences into the design process showcases two examples of how co-design has been used to produce great outcomes. There’s nothing better than seeing how the theory of doing something works out in practice. Missed part one? No problem – read it here.

The Hive

I’m taking you to the heart of the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia for our first example of a project using the principles of co-design. The area is Mt Druitt, a part of Sydney that suffers from a range of socio-economic issues such as high unemployment and low levels of education. In 2015, Mt Druitt was the setting of “Struggle Street”, a television documentary that many felt sensationalised people facing hardships unimaginable to many Australians.

“Good design needs good facilitation” — The Hive design team

This is where The Hive comes in – a project born in 2014 as a partnership between government, business, and not-for-profits. The project aimed to develop community leadership and empower locals. The focus was on building momentum for change to bring about a shift in culture and behaviour. Co-design was used as a way to bring the locals into the project, especially in the scoping process.

Why? In the designers’ words:

“The co-design process is not just about understanding the participant group. It also begins to develop a sense of ownership with key individuals before the event has even started. Often, we see the individuals who were the biggest sceptics at the beginning of the design process transform into the biggest advocates before the workshop actually begins.”

The designers ran a series of meetings with a team of 4-8 people that represented a cross-section of those who would be attending the session – across sectors and up and down hierarchies. This way of working helps the designers to “think about the challenge from multiple perspectives to understand the underlying tensions, politics, group dynamics, issues and opportunities”. In their view, taking the time to do this is important because good design needs good facilitation.

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It’s early days yet but the process used in The Hive seems to be working. They divide their work into ‘suburb’, ‘postcode’, and ‘systems’. For example, in their suburbs work, they created a sports program for children involving local police officers as coaches as a way to increase sport participation and break down barriers between young people and the police. Through this framework, the project and the designers are working with residents of Mt Druitt by making them part of the process of developing solutions rather than hoping someone else will do this.

Project Logistics

Another project using co-design with success worked with employees to improve a logistics service. Designers and researchers in the Netherlands, Marc Steen, Menno Manschot, and Nicole De Koning, worked with a logistics company to improve the customer ordering experience and use of a post office box. Co-design was especially important because there was a desire to create a commitment from the employees in the company to improve the customer processes.

Using a customer journey mapping exercise, the designers worked with employees to investigate all aspects of the customer experience. They even created scenarios to provoke emotion in fellow employees that mirrored that experienced by customers when they couldn’t navigate company systems.

Through the design process, an online tool was created and evaluated, and then put into place. The result was a significant improvement in customer satisfaction.

The benefit of using a co-design approach in this project is that not only were the staff fully integrated in the design process, they are now able to apply co-design methods in future projects. This was also an explicit goal from the outset of the project. The designers report that employees are now more committed to change, especially as they were part of the entire design and implementation process. More information about that project can be found in this report.

We’ll be publishing part three of our co-design series shortly. Follow us on Twitter and keep up to date.

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