Designing for Systems Innovation and Leadership
Learning the design process will teach our society how to make changes in fast & impactful ways.
We have done over 100 projects over 6 amazing years. See some of our latest projects below!
No excuse innovation is what we call it.
If an entire government can do it, so can your organization. Design Gov put people's voices at the heart of the government in the UAE. This national movement that connected the people who serve, to the people they serve. Design Gov selected the best leaders in the country to understand, imagine, and co-create meaningful solutions together with the people and to finally start working together between ministries. After all, all challenges are inter-connected. See the website and more info on this project here!
In this mad collaboration, the DSIL Team worked alongside the world's best including Palmwood, IDEO, and Atolye. What came from the diversity was innovative thinking and a transformational Learn & Design program unlike any other. DSIL co-designed and facilitated the immersion courses that would provide the experiences and educational arches powerful enough to shift the way ministries interact and listen to the world and to one another.
"The DSIL Team was a crucial piece to the success of the Design Gov project. The organic resiliency and empathy they brought was something we often forget and it was not just valued by me as a design practitioner, but by the whole international team and the leaders within ministries learning to grow in innovative and human ways. It was a force that moved us to get a big job done while embracing compassion and complexity."
- Anna Várnai, Design Lead, IDEO
The DSIL team focused on core pillars in the design that matched the values we live with all of the projects we take on.
Collaboration is hard work. Building meaningful innovation needs empathy and diversity to thrive.
As experienced practitioners, we strategize, design, and facilitate innovation processes in many contexts; classrooms, conferences, communities, companies, and society. Working in the field as well as the board rooms allow us to combine the intersections of theory and practice and move through projects in highly relevant ways.
Youth Leaders Creating COVID Solutions
Designing and Facilitating Global Hackathons Hybrids
This global hackathon activated youth to create peer to peer solutions that addressed challenges caused by the pandemic. Working in teams of five, we learned the design process by doing it alongside the DSIL coaches and peers including Syrian refugee teens living in the Arbat refugee camp in Northern Iraq & US teens. This hackathon was unlike any other and showed exactly what can be done globally virtually, and together locally.
We expanded as humans, as creatives, and as future leaders who harnessed the mindsets for the future of work- besides building solutions. Bonus! Money was raised to support families in the camps while AID money was absent. Check out our mad collaborators Hello Future!
Re-Humanising Executive Leadership
Stepping back from goals to build trust we need for success.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is in a collaboration with several other global INGO's in an effort to work for the eradication of diseases. Millions of dollars were being spent with brilliant minds at the table to achieve a specific goal, yet the leadership was struggling to cultivate the trust that was needed because brilliant minds only take us so far. DSIL stepped in to design and facilitate a custom gathering where leaders would roll up their sleeves to get honest about how they were getting in the way of the larger eradication goal and try new tools to liberate collaboration between organizations. Together, we moved through conflict, re-connected as humans, and set a new way of working so the goal could be achieved sooner paved with a path we could be proud of.
Co-designing on a Seamless Wellness Path for Migrating Refugees
How might we design a path that supports!
INGOs, UN and local, governmental services are often limited and lack coordination and referral mechanisms along migratory routes. Services are therefore disconnected and ineffective in supporting children and families on the move, who face heightened vulnerabilities. In this mad collaboration with those actors, the DSIL team is designing with those communities and working to mock-up possible durable innovations/solutions with the knowledge that resources are low and challenges are always shifting and unique to each place. Children and families are at the centre of the design allowing insights to emerge from that point of view and create solutions that not only stick but build the capacity of everyone who is involved along the way to better understand equity-based co-design processes and how to engage those meaningful ways that honor people's wisdom at every stage.
Re-designing Virtual Learning
Virtual engagements can be as engaging as physical ones!
We have worked with several colleges, schools, and companies to tackle the virtual transitions that are upon us. A misconception is that virtual moves will take away our ability to communicate well, feel connected, and impact the way we can collaborate. Our teams have been doing this for a long time and so training large groups of committed teams to practice new mindsets and use a simple few tools to liberate the online space, means that we get to see more
Building Strong Circular Economies
Building more holistic measures of "pilot-readiness"
DSIL was hired through a project fuelled through the Circular Economy Initiative called "Global Ocean Plastics Data challenge." Our team co-designed a "live" pilot-readiness assessment tool that added a new, more meaningful conceptual framework for understanding how levels of relevance, resilience, and connectivity influence the performance of early-stage innovation pilots. The aim was to learn how to best support innovators to develop new technology that could help our oceans breath. Watch for open-source material soon from this project both on virtual facilitation and some fun and new design tools to use that can be contextualized!
A Global Summit for Local Solutions
A 16-day summit showcasing the power radical collaboration
DSIL designed, trained facilitators, and implemented the International Development Design Summit in 2017, the first-ever to be hosted in Asia. The summit brought over 25 participants and 50 team members together with the local community to focus on 6 challenges. The 16-day event inspired a more inclusive & sustainable approach to development in Southeast Asia. New solutions and wild experiments emerged to meet the challenges in farming, entrepreneurship, and local health. The innovation lab and mindsets are still thriving in this community! Click here to see what we learned together with MIT D-Lab, Winrock, and Raitong Organics, and people from around that work in mechanics, social work, chemistry, government, and many more fields. Diveristy= the best thinking!
Unlocking Strategy that Can Endure Adversity
An annual retreat done differently
Asia Catalyst fights for the right to health around the world. Board members, senior management, and field staff came together to get honest about past successes and failures so they could identify areas to pivot in the face of a changing political and financial climate. DSIL facilitators moved the group through days of co-creating new strategies while introducing new tools for reflection and innovation that leaders could take back to their teams. Always thinking on a systems level, DSIL ensured the new strategy had agility built-in. AC's Leaders also worked on their personal development through 1:1 executive coaching sessions and checked in with their mental wellness too.
Infusing Design Processes into
Disaster Relief Distribution
Injecting innovation skills in our ways of working
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Geneva needed to upskill in innovative ways to disperse aid in local communities and market to donors. DSIL customized a hands-on design thinking training using real challenges ICRC teams identified prior to the session. Teams practiced how to spot new opportunities by truly listening to how beneficiaries experience the organization's work. The results? The organization’s internal capacity grew, the team left with a specific path on what to test and experiment (safely) with over the next year. This improved the way ICRC walked alongside communities and unlocked authentic stories that invited in more donors to fund useful things.
Humanizing Randomized Control Trials
Where rigour meets equity-based innovation
DSIL led Thailand-focussed design research to inform global guidance for Randomised Controlled Trials as part of the Good Clinical Trials Collaborative in collaboration with Quicksand, Wellcome, the Gates Foundation and the African Academy of Sciences. We discovered there were deep cultural and structural issues around community engagement, as well as informed consent, where institutionalisation over time drove performative community participation. We also discovered we CAN do better and improving guidance is one way we can start to make gold-standard research a great experience for everybody. That starts with listening to participants as experts in their own experience.
A few more of our projects...
Adding Skills to Powerful Local Ecosystems
As part of the Australian Fellowship for Local Innovation Systems co-facilitated by DSIL, we brought together young entrepreneurs from 11 countries for 2 weeks of immersive learning. The two-week fellowship supported participants to learn, iterate and continue to run successful and sustainable social enterprises in their local contexts with new skills and a support network of peers.
Redesigning Higher Education
We co-designed a program with Ashoka universities top students learning social innovation to get hands-on experience with Human-Centered Design while re-designing a dying island in Japan with the elders there. This immersion made design real while pulling the community together to give ideas, unlock insights and see the many resources available for innovation that is all around us. The youth also did nightly deep dives on the role of leadership and how that impacts the results whatever the tasks we take on. See more here.
Building Better Services + C4D
We worked alongside Marie Stopes clinic services in Cambodia to conduct HCD research that uncovered social and cultural barriers to effective service delivery for women and young girls. The project also worked to build the internal creative capacity of Khmer staff to practice HCD in other areas/services of the clinics. This work included a communication for Development (C4D) plan for the organization’s long term change strategy for the country around women's rights.
The Impact of Equity-Centred Design!
Re-designing Sexuality Education in Thailand
DSIL, UNICEF, and National committed partners wanted to better understand how effective sexuality education is in Thailand. That meant taking the perspective of Thai Youth seriously. After the opportunity to share, we brought the youth along to learn the process of innovation so they could use it to channel their experiences into actionable steps and design new solutions. They did that and more!
The youth built tangible and highly technical solutions. It's the end of the "buy-in" era.
Here is just one example: From the insight that many teen boys felt embarrassed about buying condoms, they re-designed for them. Making packet directions easier to read in one glance, creating characters to explain more about why condoms matter and even added on an app so youth can have a larger discussion about the relationships in their life.
What We Do.
All of our work starts with building humans and selves, with systems change in sight.
Innovation + EQ Capability Building
With a focus on emotional intelligence., we work with organisations ready to change the game on leadership and spend the time do it well. It also saves you money in the long term! Our experiential training is all about hands-on learning that ensures leaders or teams have the practice necessary to use the mindsets, process, and skills needed to innovate as often as needed. Customised training paths use the real challenges present in the workplace today. From design thinking to dozens of other innovation process and facilitation that uses tools like Liberating Structures © we will find 1 or more innovation process that will drive the vision of the unique company at hand. Bonus! Our facilitators are also coaches so each learner can see where they are getting stuck and why. At the end of the day, you will build your internal capacity for innovation and change and have some fun with us too. We've been told we have a good sense of humor!
Building "Durable" Culture Change
How might we create cultures that are so resilient they maintain themselves in both virtual and physical spaces? The transition to remote work is a big piece of the puzzle and our powerful opportunity to reshape teams and up-skill. The DSIL team trains people to make the most of virtual C’s: communication, collaboration, and connection. This isn’t off the shelf online training that will take you away from critical tasks. We will meet you in the virtual conferences, classrooms, and everyday meetings to integrate our tested methods and tools into you the things you need to get done today. It is time to increase engagement for whoever is on the other side of the screen or in-person and catalyse a new way of gathering, working, and being. The DSIL SHIFT model was built to guide sustainable cultural change For organisations ready to consciously transform the way humans work together,
Human and Equity-Centered Design for Innovation or Research
Whether there is a need for groundbreaking or incremental innovation, the DSIL lead designers are equally versed facilitators. We work alongside teams so that capability is built along the way to creating meaningful innovations. Kill two birds.....and next round you won't need another innovation consultant. From 5 days, 6 months, or six-year projects -all lead us to the goals that will strengthen teams long-term with exciting short term results too. Watch the power of uncovering powerful insights that lead to more resilient solutions, money saved, and less time wasted.
"Emergent Strategy" for Systems Change
Innovation is more than ideas or post-it notes. Ideas must turn into tested solutions and even tested solutions must thoughtfully embed into the current system it plans to operate in- as easily as possible. Our team develops systems thinking strategy to ensure we keep in mind the realities of the current system, culture, competitors, and resources that are available in companies and communities. Let's not waste more time creating hollow innovation just for the fun of it. Instead, let's create things that encourage systems to change in positive ways. That means finding ways to include the whole system, build relationships and collect data along the way.
Bring us your challenges and let's
design a path alongside you.
Every team and project has unique needs
and strengths and we believe context matters over stock models. Let's have a virtual coffee and quickly co-create together.