Tag Archives: Human-centered Design

Quick and Easy Way to Help Grow This Community

Quick and Easy Way to Help Grow This Community

As many of you know, this Human-Centered Change & Innovation community is a labor of love to make innovation, transformation and experience insights accessible for the greater good.

Consistent with this mission, recently I have been making a lot of contributions to LinkedIn’s new collaborative article feature, focusing on the Customer Experience topic area.

It would be a HUGE help if you could go to any or all of these ten (10) URL’s and add a reaction to any or all of my contributions to the article:

  1. How can you develop a customer-first mindset?
  2. What’s the secret to building loyal customers in a competitive market?
  3. How do you share your customer journey maps effectively?
  4. How do you share best practices with other customer experience leaders?
  5. How can you make your customer experience stand out?
  6. How do customer personas impact your CX strategy?
  7. How can you balance customer experience with efficiency?
  8. How do you identify and leverage your unique value proposition with customer journey mapping?
  9. What motivates your customer experience team?
  10. How do ensure a seamless customer experience across departments?

First, thank you in advance for adding your reactions/upvotes to my LinkedIn collaborative article contributions.

How will this help grow the community you might ask?

Well, it will assist me in achieving Top Voice status on LinkedIn, which will then help each of my article shares for the community’s contributing authors reach more people – thus growing the community of people reading and contributing articles on the human-centered change, innovation, design and experience topics we all enjoy!

Keep innovating!

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of November 2022

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of November 2022Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month, we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are November’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. Human-Centered Design and Innovation — by Braden Kelley
  2. Four Ways to Overcome Resistance to Change — by Greg Satell
  3. What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do — by Mike Shipulski
  4. 5 Simple Steps for Launching Game-Changing New Products — by Teresa Spangler
  5. Why Small Teams Kick Ass — by Mike Shipulski
  6. Crabby Innovation Opportunity — by Braden Kelley
  7. Music Can Make You a More Effective Leader — by Shep Hyken
  8. Lobsters and the Wisdom of Ignoring Your Customers — by Robyn Bolton
  9. Asking the Wrong Questions Gets You the Wrong Answers — by Greg Satell
  10. Brewing a Better Customer Experience — by Braden Kelley

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in October that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last two years:

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The Rebirth of Blogging Innovation

The Rebirth of Blogging Innovation

Join Us Here at Human-Centered Change and Innovation

Fifteen years ago I started writing Blogging Innovation on a cumbersome platform called Blogger.

It started as a place to share my observations and insights about business and innovation. Leveraging what I learned operating and optimizing the marketing engine powering what is now VRBO.com from Expedia, Blogging Innovation grew.

Blogging Innovation drew an increasingly large audience and its mission grew into:

“Making innovation insights accessible for the greater good.”

This led me to invite other leading innovation voices onto this growing platform to broaden the chorus of voices across a range of innovation-related specialties and topics.

I had the opportunity to go out and do video interviews with luminaries like Dean Kamen, Seth Godin, Dan Pink, John Hagel, and many others, sharing them with you on the blog and via my YouTube channel.

A global innovation community was born with Blogging Innovation transforming into Innovation Excellence and then into Disruptor League before I stepped away.

Recently I posted a slideshow on LinkedIn of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2020 and in communicating with the authors recognized for their contributions on the list it surfaced that people would be interested in contributing guest posts here.

Please follow the link, give it a like or leave a comment on LinkedIn supporting your favorite author on the list or add a name of someone I should watch for this year’s list.

Because people expressed interest in contributing articles to Human-Centered Change and Innovation, I’ve decided to allow some guest posts from select authors.

Here are the first three:

1. How to Conduct Virtual Office Hours
by Arlen Meyers

2. Innovation organization only thrives along with innovation culture
by Nicolas Bry

3. Catalysing Change Through Innovation Teams
by Janet Sernack

If you’ve contributed articles to Blogging Innovation in the past and are interested in contributing to Human-Centered Change and Innovation, please contact me and I’ll set you up with a user account.

Topics of particular interest include:

  • Innovation Culture
  • Innovation Methods
  • Change and Transformation
  • Human-Centered Design
  • Behavioral Science and Economics
  • Customer Experience and Insights
  • Employee Experience and Engagement
  • Organizational Psychology

Keep innovating!

Accelerate your change and transformation success

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The Power of Human-Centered Design Thinking in Driving Business Innovation

The Power of Human-Centered Design Thinking in Driving Business Innovation

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s fast-paced and competitive business landscape, innovation has become a necessity for organizations to sustain growth and thrive. However, truly groundbreaking and customer-centric innovations are often elusive. This is where Human-Centered Design (HCD) thinking comes into play. HCD integrates empathy into the problem-solving process, enabling businesses to create innovative solutions that resonate with their customers. In this thought leadership article, we will explore the power of HCD in driving business innovation through two compelling case studies.

Case Study 1: Airbnb – Revolutionizing the Hospitality Industry

Airbnb is a prime example of how HCD thinking can revolutionize an industry. Founded in 2008, Airbnb disrupted the hospitality sector by understanding the unmet needs of consumers and creating a platform that satisfied those needs. Instead of focusing solely on the traditional idea of a hotel, Airbnb reimagined hospitality by considering the desires and pain points of both hosts and guests.

By employing HCD principles, Airbnb designers embarked on a journey to better understand the needs of guests seeking alternative accommodation options on their travels. Through in-depth research, interviews, and user testing, they uncovered that travelers desired the comfort of a home-like experience, a sense of belonging, and connecting with local communities.

This deep understanding led to the creation of a platform that allowed hosts to offer unique accommodations worldwide, giving guests an opportunity to live like locals in a more authentic and personalized way. Airbnb’s success can be attributed to its ability to place the human element at the core of its design process, meeting the emotional and practical needs of their customers.

Case Study 2: IDEO – Design Thinking Champions

Design and innovation consultancy IDEO has long been a trailblazer in the field of HCD. One notable project involved IDEO teaming up with the Indian government to enhance vaccination experiences in rural India. Traditional vaccination methods faced immense challenges due to factors such as poor refrigeration, inconsistent power supply, and inadequate training for healthcare workers.

IDEO’s approach involved immersing themselves in the rural communities, conducting extensive interviews and observations to gain a deep understanding of the context and pain points. By applying HCD principles, they found that a major obstacle was the anxiety and fear experienced by children.

To overcome this, IDEO designers reimagined the vaccination process with a child-centric approach. They developed a multi-sensory toolkit, including colorful books and toys, to distract and engage children during the vaccination process. Additionally, they introduced tools like temperature-sensitive ink to monitor refrigeration and user-friendly vaccination-tracking systems.

The redesigned vaccination program, built on a foundation of empathy and human needs, successfully increased vaccination rates in rural areas and improved overall healthcare outcomes.


The power of Human-Centered Design thinking in driving business innovation cannot be overstated. By fostering empathy, embracing user research, and putting the human element at the core, organizations can create products and services that truly meet the needs of their customers.

The case studies of Airbnb and IDEO highlight the impact of HCD in transforming industries and improving lives. By understanding the emotional, practical, and cultural dimensions of their customers, these companies successfully designed innovative solutions that resonated deeply.

To excel in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations must prioritize human-centered design thinking. By embracing empathy, organizations can unlock endless possibilities for innovation, creating products and services that truly make a difference in the lives of their customers. In doing so, they not only drive business growth but also foster a positive impact on society as a whole.

SPECIAL BONUS: The very best change planners use a visual, collaborative approach to create their deliverables. A methodology and tools like those in Change Planning Toolkit™ can empower anyone to become great change planners themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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The Best Tools and Techniques for Implementing Human-Centered Design

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, crafting solutions that genuinely meet human needs is more challenging and crucial than ever. Human-Centered Design (HCD) stands out as an approach that prioritizes human values and needs in the design process, ultimately leading to more effective and meaningful outcomes. This article explores the best tools and techniques for implementing HCD and highlights two successful case studies from real-world applications.

Understanding Human-Centered Design

Human-Centered Design is built on three core pillars: empathy, ideation, and experimentation. It is a problem-solving method that involves deeply understanding the people you’re designing for, generating ideas based on that understanding, and iteratively prototyping and testing solutions.

Tools and Techniques for Human-Centered Design

1. Empathy Mapping

Empathy maps help designers visualize their understanding of the users and organize the process of empathy collection. These maps include segments such as what users think, feel, see, and say, facilitating a comprehensive understanding of their experiences and perspectives.


  • Observations and Interviews: Conduct in-depth interviews and observations to gather qualitative data about the user’s behaviors, goals, and pain points.
  • Persona Development: Create detailed personas based on real data to represent different user archetypes, ensuring that design decisions meet actual user needs.

2. Journey Mapping

A journey map is a visual representation of the process a user goes through to achieve a goal. This tool helps in identifying pain points and opportunities for innovation by tracing the entire user experience.


  • Touchpoint Identification: List all the touchpoints a user interacts with, including emotional highs and lows throughout their journey.
  • Experience Mapping Workshops: Collaborate with multidisciplinary teams to map the user’s journey and brainstorm potential improvements.

3. Prototyping

Prototyping transforms ideas into tangible products for testing. It can range from simple sketches to fully functioning models, allowing teams to visualize and experiment with different solutions.


  • Low-Fidelity Prototypes: Start with sketches and paper models to iterate quickly and gather early user feedback.
  • High-Fidelity Prototypes: Develop more detailed prototypes using digital tools like Sketch or Figma for thorough testing and refinement.

4. User Testing

User testing is a critical step to validate and refine solutions. It involves observing how users interact with the prototype and collecting feedback to improve the design.


  • Usability Testing: Have users complete tasks with the prototype while observing their behavior and noting any issues or confusion.
  • A/B Testing: Compare two versions of a prototype to determine which one performs better based on user interaction and feedback.

Case Study 1: IDEO and Bank of America – Keep the Change


IDEO partnered with Bank of America to innovate its banking services. Through extensive research, they discovered that many customers struggled with saving money.


  1. Empathy Mapping: IDEO conducted hundreds of interviews and focus groups to understand customers’ financial behaviors and pain points.
  2. Journey Mapping: They mapped out the banking experiences of various customer segments, identifying a common challenge: the difficulty of saving money.
  3. Ideation and Prototyping: The team brainstormed the “Keep the Change” program, which rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the difference into a savings account. They created low-fidelity prototypes and iteratively refined them based on customer feedback.
  4. User Testing: After multiple iterations, they pilot-tested the concept with a small group of customers, fine-tuning the process based on real-world usage.


The “Keep the Change” program was wildly successful, signing up millions of users and significantly increasing Bank of America’s customer engagement and savings rates.

Case Study 2: General Electric – MRI Machines for Children


GE sought to improve the experience of children undergoing MRI scans, as many found the process frightening.


  1. Empathy Mapping: GE’s team interviewed families, pediatricians, and radiologists to understand the children’s fears and anxieties related to MRI scans.
  2. Journey Mapping: They mapped out the MRI experience from a child’s perspective, identifying moments of stress and discomfort.
  3. Ideation and Prototyping: The team brainstormed creative ideas and landed on transforming the MRI experience into an adventure. They created prototypes of various themed environments, such as pirate ships and space adventures, that integrate the MRI machine.
  4. User Testing: GE tested these environments in hospitals and gathered feedback from children, parents, and healthcare workers, iterating on the themes and improving the overall experience.


The revamped MRI experience significantly reduced children’s anxiety and increased the completion rate of scans. Hospitals reported less need for sedation, and the initiative was lauded as a groundbreaking approach to pediatric care.


Implementing Human-Centered Design requires a deep commitment to understanding and prioritizing user needs through empathy, ideation, and iterative testing. Tools like empathy maps, journey maps, prototypes, and user testing are indispensable in this process. The success stories of Bank of America’s “Keep the Change” and GE’s child-friendly MRI machines vividly demonstrate the power of HCD in creating innovative, effective solutions that truly resonate with users. By embracing these methods, we can drive transformative innovations that genuinely improve human experiences.

If you’re looking for someone to help you bring human-centered design to your organization, Braden Kelley is a globally-recognized thought leader in human-centered change and innovation. His work continues to inspire organizations to harness the power of HCD for meaningful, impactful design.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Why Empathy is Key to Human-Centered Design Success

Why Empathy is Key to Human-Centered Design Success

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s fast-paced, technologically driven world, there’s one ingredient that brings us back to our roots, keeping us human and connected – empathy. Empathy allows us to understand and share the feelings of others. In the sphere of design, this ability to place oneself in another’s shoes is not just beneficial, but pivotal for success, especially in achieving Human-Centered Design (HCD).

HCD, at its core, revolves around the users and their needs, requiring designers to claw out of their expertise, immerse themselves into the users’ world, and observe, adapt and innovate solutions that are appropriate, manageable, and desirable. This tight-knit relationship between empathy and HCD can be better unfolded through two enticing case studies – one, an iconic product, and the other, a service that transformed an industry.

Case Study 1: Apple’s iPod

It was empathy that set the foundations of the fascinating success story of Apple’s iPod. The marketplace was riddled with generic MP3 players, many with superior technology or features, yet the iPod rose from obscurity to become a household name.

Apple, under the leadership of Steve Jobs, didn’t simply see consumers needing a device to play music on the go. They saw users battling complex user interfaces, struggling with cumbersome file transfers, and yearning for a simpler, more immersive experience. This empathetic realization was leveraged by Apple. They designed a product with an easy-to-use navigation wheel and a seamless integration system through iTunes making music management effortless for users.

The iPod’s success hasn’t been around the ‘what’, but the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. Apple did not invent the MP3 player, they reinvented it by truly understanding the journey, emotions, and needs of the user.

Case Study 2: Uber

Uber has disrupted the traditional taxi industry by applying HCD extensively, underpinned by empathy. They didn’t just see the act of hailing a taxi as a mere logistical necessity, but as an emotional rollercoaster ridden with uncertainty, anxiety, and frustration.

Uber, with its service, brought transparency, reliability, and convenience. GPS integration gave customers real-time visibility about driver location, removing the uncertainty. Exact fare estimates made payment experiences much more predictable, lowering anxiety levels. The door to door service convenience made users feel cared for and valued, elevating customer satisfaction.

Uber didn’t invent taxi services; they redefined the taxi experience by empathetically understanding and solving customer pain points.


In both case studies, empathy was the driving force behind creating solutions that reshaped industries and defined a generation. Empathy directed the designers to uncover unmet needs, understand latent desires, and design solutions that weren’t just functionally superior, but emotionally resonant.

Empathy in HCD encourages us to see not just the personas or demographics, but the humans behind them – their emotions, their journeys, their stories, and their dreams. It is empathy that allows us to shift our design thinking from problem-focused to people-focused, from technology-centered to human-centered. And it is this shift that paves the way for more sustainable, thoughtful, and successful designs.

In the end, the surest route to design success isn’t a path lined with advanced technology or complex analytics, but with empathy – the fundamentally human ability to truly see, hear, and feel the people who will use the solutions we design.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Design Thinking vs. Human-Centered Design

Understanding the Difference

Design Thinking vs. Human-Centered Design

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In the dynamic world of design and innovation, two methodologies stand out for their impact and popularity: Design Thinking and Human-Centered Design (HCD). While they share similarities, such as a focus on understanding users and solving problems creatively, they are distinct in their approach and application. This article will delve into the nuances of each methodology, underscore their differences, and illustrate their unique value through two compelling case studies.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is an iterative problem-solving process that seeks to understand the user, challenge assumptions, redefine problems, and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. It involves five stages: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. This approach encourages diverse thoughts to generate new ideas and challenge traditional assumptions in a creative manner[^10^].

What is Human-Centered Design?

Human-Centered Design, on the other hand, is a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions tailored to suit their needs. It’s a framework that develops solutions by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process¹¹.

Key Differences

The main difference lies in their scope and focus. Design Thinking is broader, applicable to a wide range of problems beyond just product or service design. It’s a general approach to problem-solving. HCD, however, is more focused on creating solutions that are specifically tailored to improve the user experience and usability of products and services.

Case Study 1: Airbnb’s Turnaround with Design Thinking

Airbnb is a classic example of Design Thinking in action. When the company was struggling to gain traction, the founders decided to employ Design Thinking. They empathized with users by actually staying in the rented spaces themselves. This led to a redefinition of their problem and ideation that focused on improving the quality of listings. By prototyping changes and testing them, they enhanced the user experience, which significantly increased bookings and helped turn the company around⁵.

Case Study 2: Asili – Human-Centered Design for Community Health

Asili is a sustainable community-owned health, agricultural, and water business in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The project utilized Human-Centered Design to understand the community’s needs deeply. By involving the community in every design phase, from ideation to implementation, Asili created services that were not only desired by the community but also supported their long-term goals and values³.


Both Design Thinking and Human-Centered Design offer valuable frameworks for innovation. Design Thinking provides a broad, flexible problem-solving approach, while Human-Centered Design ensures that solutions are deeply empathetic and tailored to the users’ needs. By understanding their differences and applications, designers and innovators can choose the right approach for their specific challenges.

This exploration into Design Thinking and Human-Centered Design reveals that while they overlap, each has its strengths and ideal scenarios for application. The case studies of Airbnb and Asili demonstrate how these methodologies can lead to successful outcomes when applied thoughtfully. As we continue to innovate and design solutions for complex problems, understanding and utilizing these frameworks can be the key to creating impactful and lasting change.


(1) Human centered design vs. Design thinking: an overview | Mural. https://www.mural.co/blog/design-thinking-vs-human-centered-design.
(2) Human-Centered Design vs. Design-Thinking: How They’re Different…. https://blog.movingworlds.org/human-centered-design-vs-design-thinking-how-theyre-different-and-how-to-use-them-together-to-create-lasting-change/.
(3) Explore 10 Great Design Thinking Case studies – The Knowledge Academy. https://www.theknowledgeacademy.com/blog/design-thinking-case-study/.
(4) Case Studies using Human Centered Design – The Compass for SBC. https://thecompassforsbc.org/project-examples/case-studies-using-human-centered-design.
(5) Human-centred design in industry 4.0: case study review and …. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10845-021-01796-x.
(6) Case Studies – Design Kit. https://www.designkit.org/case-studies.html.
(7) Human-Centered Design in Action: #LearnHCD Case Studies 3 & 4 From…. https://blog.movingworlds.org/human-centered-design-in-action-learnhcd-case-studies-3-4-from-the-field/.
(8) Explore: Design Thinking Case Studies | The Design Thinking Association. https://www.design-thinking-association.org/explore-design-thinking-topics/design-thinking-case-studies.
(9) 8 Great Design Thinking Examples – Voltage Control. https://voltagecontrol.com/blog/8-great-design-thinking-examples/.
(10) Design Thinking Case Studies – Innovation Training. https://www.innovationtraining.org/design-thinking-case-studies/.
(11) 7 Real-Life Design Thinking Examples | AND Academy. https://www.andacademy.com/resources/blog/ui-ux-design/7-design-thinking-examples/.
(12) What is Human Centered Design (HCD)? (vs Design Thinking) – Hotjar. https://www.hotjar.com/design-thinking/vs-human-centered-design/.
(13) Design Thinking Vs Human-Centred Design: What’s the difference?. https://medium.com/snapout/design-thinking-vs-human-centred-design-whats-the-difference-9ef855f55223.
(14) Design Thinking Frequently Asked Questions… | IDEO | Design Thinking. https://designthinking.ideo.com/faq/whats-the-difference-between-human-centered-design-and-design-thinking.
(15) Human Centered Design vs. Design Thinking – The UX Studio. https://theuxstudio.com/ux-articles/human-centered-design-vs-design-thinking/.

SPECIAL BONUS: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Unsplash

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Human-Centered Design in the Digital Age

Navigating Challenges and Opportunities

Human-Centered Design in the Digital Age

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s digitally advanced era, businesses progressively rely on technology to connect with customers, optimize processes, and enhance products and services. However, amidst this rapid digitization, it is crucial to remember that humans should remain at the core of all design and development efforts. Human-centered design (HCD) principles guide us to create meaningful and intuitive solutions that truly address the needs and expectations of users. This article explores the challenges and opportunities of human-centered design in the digital age, emphasizing the importance of empathy and two compelling case studies that exemplify its effectiveness.

Challenges of Human-Centered Design in the Digital Age:

While human-centered design principles promise significant benefits, implementing them in the digital age comes with unique challenges. Some of these challenges include:

1. Big Data Overload: In the digital landscape, businesses are inundated with vast amounts of data about their users. It can be overwhelming to sift through this data effectively to truly understand user needs and preferences. Distilling relevant insights from the sea of information becomes crucial to designing user-centric solutions.

2. Rapid Technological Advances: The pace at which technology evolves poses challenges in keeping up with user expectations. Designers must not only adapt to the evolving technological landscape but also anticipate potential user challenges and preferences that emerge with new technologies.

Opportunities presented by Human-Centered Design in the Digital Age:

Human-centered design offers numerous opportunities for businesses to excel in the digital age. Some key opportunities include:

1. Enhancing User Experience (UX): User experience is the cornerstone of success in the digital realm. By understanding users intimately through human-centered design practices, businesses can craft seamless, intuitive, and immersive experiences that exceed user expectations. A well-designed UX fosters loyalty, advocacy, and differentiates a brand in an intensely competitive market.

2. Driving Digital Transformation: Human-centered design enables organizations to drive digital transformation effectively. By consistently placing humans at the center of strategic decision-making, businesses can create digital products and services that drive productive, efficient, and meaningful outcomes.

Case Study 1: Airbnb – Transforming Travel Experiences:

Airbnb’s success is deeply rooted in the implementation of human-centered design principles. By aligning their platform with the needs, desires, and pain points of both hosts and guests, Airbnb created a transformative experience in the travel industry. The platform offers personalized recommendations, user reviews, intuitive search features, and streamlined booking processes, centered around user needs. Airbnb’s human-centered approach revolutionized the travel industry and disrupted traditional accommodation providers.

Case Study 2: Apple – Revolutionizing Digital Communication:

Apple’s dominance in the smartphone market is a testament to its adherence to human-centered design principles. Through exquisite hardware and software integration, intuitive interfaces, and seamless connectivity, Apple prioritizes a superior user experience. By keenly understanding user emotions, wants, and needs, Apple revolutionized digital communication and became a symbol of exceptional human-centered design in the digital age.


In the digital age, human-centered design remains instrumental in overcoming challenges and capitalizing on opportunities. By genuinely understanding users, their struggles, and preferences, businesses can create innovative and meaningful digital solutions. As demonstrated by Airbnb and Apple, human-centered design has the power to transform industries and build strong connections with users. Embracing human-centered design in the digital age is not only an ethical decision but also a strategic choice that fosters long-term success and establishes an organization as a leader in its domain.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pexels

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Design Thinking for Non-profits

Solving Social Challenges with Human-centered Approaches

Design Thinking for Non-profits

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s rapidly evolving world, non-profit organizations face numerous complex social challenges that require innovative and effective solutions. Design thinking, a problem-solving approach that focuses on human-centered solutions, is increasingly being embraced by non-profits as a powerful tool to create meaningful change. By leveraging empathy, collaboration, and iterative processes, non-profits can successfully tackle social issues while ensuring that the needs and experiences of the communities they serve are at the forefront. In this thought leadership article, we will explore the application of design thinking in the non-profit sector and provide two case study examples that demonstrate its effectiveness in solving social challenges.

Case Study 1: WaterAid’s Innovative Solution for Accessible Water Supply in Ethiopia

WaterAid, an international non-profit organization working to improve access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene, adopted design thinking principles to address the challenge of scarce and unreliable water supply in a rural region of Ethiopia. Recognizing the importance of involving the local community in the solution development process, WaterAid engaged in empathy-building exercises and conducted interviews with residents to gain insights into their lived experiences.

Through the empathetic understanding gained, WaterAid discovered that the main problem was not the lack of water sources but rather the existing water sources’ unreliability. To address this, they implemented a design thinking approach that involved collaboration with local residents, engineers, and government officials to co-create a sustainable solution. The resulting innovation was a solar-powered water pumping system that leveraged renewable energy to provide a reliable and continuous water supply to the community. This human-centered approach not only solved the immediate challenge but also empowered the community by involving them in the problem-solving process.

Case Study 2: IDEO.org’s Design Thinking Approach for Financial Inclusion in Kenya

IDEO.org, a non-profit design and innovation organization, used design thinking to tackle the issue of financial exclusion faced by smallholder farmers in Kenya. Facing numerous barriers to accessing financial services, these farmers struggled to invest in their businesses and enhance productivity. IDEO.org employed a design thinking framework that placed the end-users, the farmers, at the center of the solution development process.

By conducting in-depth interviews and on-the-ground research, IDEO.org gained valuable insights into the farmers’ needs and challenges. They discovered that financial exclusion was exacerbated by a lack of trust and knowledge among the farming community. IDEO.org then collaborated with farmers, local financial institutions, and technology experts to devise a solution that would address these underlying issues. The result was a mobile-based platform that simplified financial transactions, provided easy-to-understand financial literacy resources, and fostered trust through transparent and personalized interactions.

Through this design thinking approach, smallholder farmers gained access to previously unavailable financial resources and were able to harness their entrepreneurial potential, leading to increased productivity and improved livelihoods.


Design thinking has proven to be a powerful tool for non-profit organizations aiming to address complex social challenges. By centering their solutions around the experiences and needs of the communities they serve, non-profits can create interventions that are effective, sustainable, and empowering. The case studies of WaterAid and IDEO.org demonstrate how design thinking can lead to innovative and impactful solutions that transform lives.

Non-profits should embrace design thinking as an essential part of their problem-solving toolkit, fostering a culture of empathy, collaboration, and learning that enables them to adapt and iterate their approaches continually. By taking a human-centered approach to tackle social challenges, non-profit organizations can create lasting change that truly improves lives and provides the necessary tools for a brighter and more equitable future.

Bottom line: Futurists are not fortune tellers. They use a formal approach to achieve their outcomes, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to be their own futurist.

Image credit: Pexels

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Why Sometimes Being Certifiable is a Good Thing

Certified Design Thinking ProfessionalRecently I became a Certified Design Thinking Professional (CDTP) through the Global Innovation Institute (GInI).

I’m sure you’ve probably heard someone say that an individual is certifiable. In the negative context of the word it means that an individual is “officially recognized as needing treatment for mental disorder” according to the Oxford Languages dictionary.

BUT, there is of course a positive meaning to the word certifiable as well – “able or needing to be certified.”

I’ve been doing human-centered design, or what some people refer to as ‘design thinking’, for more than twenty years – since I built Symantec’s first web-based technical support and customer service capabilities. But, despite decades of experience I’ve never bothered to get certified. So, why now?

Well, recently I finished building and launching a Design Thinking program for Oracle customers similar to Salesforce Ignite, Deloitte Greenhouse, EY Wavespace, SAP Leonardo, etc. Now as I explore a range of potential new opportunities to tackle next, there is one inescapable fact that presents itself very quickly:

Companies are extremely risk averse as they evaluate potential vendors and employees, and so they place a great deal of value on diplomas and certifications as a way of decreasing the perceived risk of hiring the services of a new employee or contractor.

This is valuable to the individual as well, but certifications help to increase the knowledge and confidence for the person too. And, tools like the Applied Innovation Master Book (AInMB) contain not only valuable information about design thinking, but also about innovation in the bargain. And, the Applied Innovation Master Book gives you one place to jump back to for selecting the methods you want to leverage each time you engage in a new design challenge.

So, does it make sense to get certified in everything you could possibly get certified on?

Maybe not. But, there are definitely times where being certifiable is a good thing.

Keep innovating!

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