Change is Hard, Time is Important and Balance is Tricky
Fellow Liz Ogbu provides an update from the front lines of synthesis with the IDEO.org Winrock Team as Liz, Adam, and Jess prepare to complete the Multiple Use Water Services project.
As we move into December, the Winrock team (Adam Reineck, Jess Vechakul, and myself) is working hard to complete a guide to Multiple Use Water Services. It has been a fascinating process moving from the synthesis of our research in the field to creating a communication tool that will help Winrock reach potential adopters.
Since we returned from our epic journey to Nepal and Ethiopia, we’ve been really excited about the idea that this guide could play a role in building a movement for Multiple Use Water Services. To that end, we’ve laid out a few goals that we’ve tried to keep present throughout the process: 1) create excitement, 2) explain the big idea, and 3) invite others to participate.
As simple and clear as these goals sound, the process has not been without its challenges.
Change is Hard: The potential of advancing the dialogue about Multiple Use Water Services to reach a broader audience is obvious, but simplifying the terminology and explaining the system has sometimes been a difficult process. One of the key tactics we’ve deployed is to create overall strategy documents that get our team and our client on the same page.
Time is Important: Our team went out into the field unsure about what the appropriate final product should be. We had greater clarity after our travels, but there were only four weeks of design time remaining upon our return from the field. As a result, we now find ourselves working with the client to clarify existing language and concepts while also creating a guide for new adopters. Not easy! There’s no simple solution, but moving forward quickly on the design of the most important visual elements has been helpful.
Balance is Tricky: It’s been an interesting process to find the right middle ground between written and visual content. The development world often relies heavily on text and complex graphics while designers tend to prefer minimal text and simple, compelling graphics. Finding the right balance between these two approaches has been a learning process for our client and for us. Soliciting feedback from outside our immediate IDEO.org Winrock team has been a valuable exercise.
In spite of the challenges, we’re making good progress. We continue to gain inspiration from the field. Our workspace is filled with photos and quote-filled Post-its that remind us of the ultimate beneficiaries of our work. We saw firsthand how Multiple Use Water Services can improve health, increase incomes, and strengthen communities. Our hope is that our work can help bring more of these opportunities to life.