Human Centered Design Orients a New Designer in Rural Ghana
Think Impact is in rural Ghana with ten student scholars using human centered design to make lasting social changes.
I will be posting a series of stories documenting my experience on Think Impact's Innovation Institute 2012 in Ghana. The Innovation Institute is a full-immersion experiential learning program in rural Africa, rooted in philosophies of asset-based community development and design-thinking. The 8-week program consists of three phases that correlate with the phases of the HCD process. They are Immersion, Inspiration, and Innovation which correspond to Hear, Create, and Deliver, respectively. The primary goals of each phase are as follows:
Learn the culture
Build a design team
Ask how might we...?
I am amidst the Immersion phase right now and have spent the past week engaged with a small community called Kwame Dwaa in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Kwame Dwaa has been around since 1909 and was started by cocoa farmers who wanted to be closer to their crops. Over time the community has grown in size, but remains united around the common purpose of cocoa farming. This common purpose has led to a relatively diverse set of ethnic, linguistic, and religious identities for a rural area. The community has its challenges, but from what I have seen I am optimistic that they can overcome them.
I am excited to be working here for the next 6 weeks and am eager for any feedback or advice from the HCD Connect community. With Think Impact's curriculum and IDEO's HCD Toolkit as resources I am confident there will be valuable insights gained over the course of the institute.
I would like to share a story of a technique I tried which I found to be very effective. After a few days in Kwame Dwaa I arranged a one-on-one interview with a leader in the community, who happened to be the grandson of Kwame Dwaa, the founder of the community. In addition to being a cocoa farmer, this man is a respected elder, pastor of the local Baptist church, and the health volunteer for the district which includes several other nearby communities. The initial purpose of our conversation was to learn the history of Kwame Dwaa, but as the story came to present day the conversation smoothly turned into a discussion of his vision for the future of Kwame Dwaa and an intimate discussion of the challenges it faces. The approach of getting someone to tell a story about something they are familiar with can be a great way to bring the conversation into a comfortable place where deeper discussions can then develop.
How did you use the HCD Toolkit and / or human-centered design as part of the project?
The Innovation Institute focuses on the 'In-Context Immersion' and 'Community Driven Discovery' methods from the HCD Toolkit to drive the design process. There are many other research methods employed by the institute which I will be selecting throughout the phases as needed.