Become a Better Problem Framer through Design Thinking

Submitted by Dominique Narciso, founder and president of AidWell.

Design thinking is making its entry into the international development mainstream, with big design companies such as IDEO and Acumen Fund promoting human-centered design to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. However, the actual process of doing design is sometimes hard to grasp.

I’d like to digress for a brief moment to give an example of something that is hard to do without really experiencing it: being a Peace Corps volunteer. I served in the Peace Corps in Latin America for two years and anytime someone asks, what was your service like? I say, “Gosh, it was incredible, hard at times, but totally worth it…you kind of have to take the leap of faith, and do it yourself to understand.”

Design, like Peace Corps service, is truly a process of exploring, discovering, feeling uncomfortable, being surprised, and working through the tough road blocks, while fully immersing yourself in the difficult work of breaking your own paradigms and assumptions of how the world works. At the end, the goal is to reframe how you understand challenges, by truly seeing through other people’s eyes. Your mind opens up to new possibilities and new ways of approaching problems.

During Design: An Alternative to Understanding Problems, be prepared for a taste of doing design, by focusing on the most challenging aspect of the process, problem-framing. By the end of the workshop, we hope participants will:

  1. Learn to see problems from multiple perspectives;

  1. See the value in design methods for engaging in creative collaboration with partners, stakeholders, and beneficiaries;

  1. Realize that the process of problem-framing is just as important as problem-solving;

  1. Experience the feel of the Studio Method to replicate in their own organizations; and

  1. Gain an appreciation for design and become part of a community of design thinkers within the international development sector

Our team looks forward to working with you at the Design Studio!


Dominique Narciso is the founder and president of AidWell. Narciso will be speaking at the InterAction Forum workshop, "Design: An Alternative to Understanding Problems." The workshop is part of the Effective Partnerships track and will be held on April 20, 2016.

Editor's Note: This blog is part of a series highlighting the various workshop tracks at Forum 2016. Check back every day until April 15 for a new blog!

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