Solving Community Issues with Design Thinking

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What is design thinking & how it can solve the problem faced by a community?

As a design thinker, you need to empathize with the people or the community involved in the process. Understand the people and what is important to them.

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A) Empathize

Why do we need to empathize?

Unless we interact with humans, we will not be able to understand their core problems. We have to get deep and find out the issues they are facing in their daily lives and try tackling it. The core human behaviour is open to people’s opinions that easily and empathize to understand the physical and emotional needs, how they perceive the world.

Empathize revolves around three main concepts:

  1. Observe 2. Engage 3. Watch and List

Observing people and environment around you would give you the most clearance on seeing things with a different perspective. We start to intercept things that provide us with more profound insights.

Ask people why it happened, because it invokes a feeling among the people as people are ready to list. Engage in meaningful conversations to arrive at a better conclusion.

Watch and listen is the essential component of a human character as it gives an idea about how the whole world is revolving around you.

B) Define

After the empathize process, the transition begins by defining the problem. Mapping out the journeys, notes on the behaviour, answers from the people you had interactions with etc. Visualizing is an essential factor for structuring the problem. When you try defining the issues, it helps in framing the point-of-view and narrowing down the problem into a few single statements. Collecting all the puzzles in front of you will lead to discoveries.

In most cases, people try to work on vague issues which lead to time consumption and less productivity.

Having a fixed problem is just like a fixed mindset. You can start building solutions above it.

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C) Ideate

After you define the problem next step to create a broad range of possibilities or solutions for addressing the issue. This is the mode in the design process where you concentrate on idea generation. It means going wider in terms of possible concepts and outcomes that can be carried out in this scenario.

While creating the key points always remember to keep a track of:

  1. Step beyond the obvious solutions.
  2. Create flexibility (variety) and fluency (volume) in your answers.
  3. Explore the unexplored parts of your problem

Finally, it reaches a point where the brainstorming, mind mapping is completed. The evaluation of ideas needs to take over.

D) Prototype

In this mode, you start creating solutions that are quick and cheap to make. If you gain deep insights, it can be more refined into more complex architecture. It’s necessary to understand failure is a part of this overall procedure.

Why do we need to prototype?

  1. To understand the issues with the prototype
  2. To test the possibilities
  3. It gives efficiency and effectiveness.

Last but not the least build things with the people in mind.

And most importantly to fail faster and move on to the next possible solution.

E) Test

Test mode is when you gain feedback from the user and have another chance to learn empathy for the people you have designed the whole process. Don’t limit your thought to just asking whether people liked the product or not. Know why they loved or what all improvisations could be done on the project.

Do not tell the user about the prototype, but rather check the product and how people will benefit from the product. Also, ask individuals to compare the product with other prototypes available.

Why do we need to test?

  1. To refine prototypes and solutions
  2. To learn more about the user
  3. To make a more precise point of view.

 

Try adopting this in your real life and make the difference.

The 3 important lessons of life to remember when you feel stuck

People always say life is a journey but it would be great if someone had shared the help guide to find the right direction. You can find out if everyone has got their own story, but there is something that would guide you in reaching the destination much smoother.

  1. Time

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Individuals need to devote time to achieving master capability in anything they pursue. Time plays a crucial role in people’s lives if they are looking for long-term growth. Growth will come in, without any hindrance if anyone dedicates time to any other crafts. How does an average person become extraordinary? The 10,000-hour role comes into play this, as the person starts doing the same thing over and over again it will become like a daily routine.

Many people have complained about the same thing as they get bored with things quite soon. At times I do feel the same. But think of the larger picture. When you start taking small steps for the final goal that itself will turn out to be a great boon in the long term. Our human brains are accustomed to the thought of not doing more than we are capable of, but believe me, we haven’t explored enough. If you start pushing the limits of the brain, there will be many instances where you will feel giving up but continue pursuing it.

  1. Persistence

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Patience is the virtue that everyone should hold on. As a normal human being, we compare ourselves to the people around us naturally leading to depression and uncomfortableness in any given environment. You will feel insufficient and get annoyed for things that might turn into disastrous outcomes. So believing in and trusting this journey would erase all the hindrances in life. Let go of all the unnecessary expectations and focus on short-term goals that will lead you into final goals. Take that one step resulting in a better YOU.

3.Learning / Way of Thinking

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I had written about time and persistence as the key components, but all of this would come down to one single thing.

“Change your mistakes into valuable lessons of your life.” No one is perfect and understand that every individual who calls them “motivational gurus” have experienced their fair share of failures, heartbreaks, disappointments, loss etc. into place.

Hope is something that drives us through all the hindrances in life.

“Chaos in mind is okay, learn to accept as you are and naturally the soul will be at peace.”

Känslan och sanningen

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Hon tar min hand, mina fingrar i sin hand. Hon börjar sakta räkna, ”um, dois, três..”. Jag har hennes hand i min och gör det samma. Vi har lika många fingrar. Ögonblicket är fullt av förvåning. En upplysande tystnad.  Sen skrattet. Det där rena naiva skratten som bara ett barn kan brista ut i. Mitt hjärta svämmar över.

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Planen var tre veckor på Bali. Praktisera yoga, läsa böcker och umgås med goda vänner. Tanken var värme, avkoppling och självförverkligande. Sen kom flyktingkrisen till Europa och Sverige.  En effekt av fem år av konflikt i Syrien. Och Europas reaktion. Jag kunde inte andas, kokade av ilska varje dag över hur något jag ansåg självklart kunde te sig så oklart för makthavarna kring det runda EU bordet. Hopplösheten och frågorna. Vad är egentligen att hjälpa?  Är det att bära någon som är för svag för att själv kunna gå? Är det att själv somna hungrig för att någon ska kunna somna mätt? Eller är det att försöka förstå, verkligen försöka förstå en annan människans lycka och sorg?

Somliga anser att benägenheten att hjälpa andra ligger i vårt genetiska arv , att det är en framgångsrik kvarleva från jägar- och samlarsamhället som har möjliggjort att vi utvecklas till de komplexa varelser vi är idag. Andra hävdar att det bara handlar om egocentrism. Att vi hjälper andra endast för att kunna känna oss bra och värdefulla i oss själva.  Jag har träffat människor av båda åsikterna. Jag är inte speciellt imponerad av någon av dem. Det jag däremot är imponerad av är människor som gör. Michel och Erik är två personer som gör. Project Vita är en organisation som gör. De känner att det vill hjälpa andra men stannar inte i varför utan gör faktiskt nått i praktiken. De har insett den fundamentala insikten, att vi alla bara är människor och att oddsen därför är ganska höga att vi finner en lösningarna tillsammans på vägen.


Verkligheten gjorde att Bali bytes ut mot Mozambique. Yogan och läsningen bytes ut mot volontärjobb och studier. Jag hade någonstans att åka endast för att dessa människor gör i praktiken. Fascinerande vad livet kan ge en många alternativ om en vågar hålla ögonen öppna. Mina lärdomar från Mozambique. Det blir inte alltid rätt men det blir heller inte alltid fel. Det går inte så snabbt som de skulle behöva göra, men det görs. Det finns en befriande tro på att det löser sig och en livsglädje större än livet självt. Min inledning till det här inlägget är bevis nog på just detta.

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Frida Schleenvoigt, Gothenburg, Sweden

Mitt möte med Moçambique

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Möten. Jag gillar möten. Möten mellan människor. Mellan kulturer. Möten med sig själv. Vi glömmer så lätt bort att stanna upp och ta vara dem. Stunderna, platserna och personerna vi möter. Världen och dess orättvisor kryper lätt ihop till gatan vi bor på, och staden vi lever i och kontoret vi arbetar på. Vi rusar på till nästa punkt, blinda för vad som försiggår runt omkring oss. Vi programmeras till att ta på oss skygglappar och slussas in i ett ekorrhjul där vi ofta finner oss ganska ensamma och undrandes. Vi söker mening i komplex bemärkelse och jagar en högre lön, nytt jobb, större lägenhet, en fin bil. Ibland vågar vi inte möta oss själva för vi gillar inte det vi ser.

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Ett avgörande möte för mig uppstod med Michel och Erik våren 2015. Deras arbete med Project Vita började synas i mitt facebook-flöde och jag frågade om vad de gjorde och om jag kunde hjälpa till. Ofta pratar folk om att bryta ny mark och testa nya gränser men få kan säga att man de facto gjort det. Att leda i bevis. Vad jag mötte var två personer som lagt allt vad bekvämligheter och egenintresse heter åt sidan i ambitionen att hitta nya sätt att förändra. Det väckte en nyfikenhet och längtan inom mig att få lära mig mer och försöka se världen genom deras ögon. Nu, ett år senare, landade jag i Moçambique för att under ett par veckor möta något nytt. Fördjupa mina kunskaper om deras arbete, om landet och människorna som de möter.

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Att under dessa veckor ha fått omgett sig med personer som släppt sin prestige och helhjärtat lever för att hjälpa andra, kan jag inte kalla för något annat än en ren ynnest. Personer som vågar tänka nytt och ifrågasätta är de som driver utvecklingen framåt. Det är ingen lätt sak. Speciellt inte i ett samhälle där saker som struktur och planering mer eller mindre är obefintliga och innebär att detaljer som att samla material till pågående projekt kan ta allt från en timme till 2 dagar. Kultur och tradition möter och kolliderar med svenska arbetssätt. Språkbarriärer leder till missförstånd. Men det är i mötet mellan dessa olika sätt, tankar och individer från olika länder och kontinenter som en idrottsplats växer fram i byn Nhangau, utanför staden Beira. Det är där som byns barn får en ny plats att mötas och leka, växa och utvecklas. Förändras. Det är där naturbyggda spisar får ta plats i hemmen och minska hälsorisker, spisar som Beiras universitetsstudenter kommer göra folkhälsostudier kring.


Det är genom mötet vi får möjlighet att låsa upp våra sinnen och förändra. Utan dessa nya möten hade inte jag fått möjligheten att upptäcka nya sidor av livet och vad det kan innebära att vara levande. I mötet med människorna i Nhangau och i Beira har jag blivit medveten om mina egna styrkor och svagheter. Vad jag saknar och vad jag kan bidra med när nya intryck och perspektiv får ta plats. Jag mötte en ny vardag som kontrasterade livet självt.

Jag är oerhört tacksam och glad över att jag en regnig dag i början på mars bestämde att jag skulle åka ner och ta del av Project Vitas arbete. Med små medel skapar de stor förändring för att de vågar och vill möta det nya och okända. Genom sitt arbete skapar de möjligheter för fler att mötas och tillsammans förändra. De lockar ut det finaste i människor, viljan att ge och hjälpa andra i sin omgivning. Jag har alltid trott, nu mer än någonsin, på det mänskliga goda. Att vi alla har en inre röst som vill stanna upp och möta verkligheten som pågår runt omkring oss. Som vill säga ifrån när vi ser orättvisor. Att vi känner oss som mest levande när vi bryter loss från konventioner och släpper taget om oss själva. När vi tillsammans förändrar.


För mig har den här resan och upplevelsen varit omvälvande på fler sätt än jag får plats att skriva om här och nu. Nya tankesätt, vänner och minnen som jag utan tvekan kommer bära med mig i mitt hjärta för resten av livet. Varje ny dag som går får med sig något från den tid vi spenderat tillsammans i Moçambique. Jag ser otroligt mycket fram emot att vara en del av Project Vitas fortsatta arbete där vi tillsammans skapar bättre liv för fler.

Tack för besöket Michel och Erik. På återseende.

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/Elin Hemreus, Stockholm, Sweden

From an office in Berlin to the sandy roads of Nhangau

The idea of doing development aid had been growing quite a while, when I met one of the Project Vita founders during a holiday trip in Vietnam 2 years ago. This year I finally decided to step up and contact them to find out if I can help.

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Playground in Nhangau, Beira, Mozambique

 

Being an environmental and energy engineer, first ideas of realizing electrification and/or water treatment projects came to mind, but when I heard about the plan to build a playground for the kids of Nhangau, I was incidentally hooked. Since construction is not really my line of work at first I was intimidated by the idea of becoming the project leader. But, what could go wrong?

 

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Felix Stridde

 

I always used to build stuff with my father and basically grew up on building sites, since he is an architect. Plus I worked two years in the youth organization of the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), when I was younger. Building a playground in one of the poorest countries in the world just seemed as the perfect challenge to start working in this part of the world.

 

 

Also I always wanted a direct way of help, which wouldn’t be “over the heads” of people, but included them and took their needs and wishes into consideration. Furthermore, working for the well being of future generations is the best investment you possibly could think of. Getting me on board didn’t take much persuasion from Project Vita, since I was right away convinced that they had a similar understanding and a very personal approach of aid. So, basically I just booked a flight without thinking too much about it.

 

 

The actual work turned out to be more challenging than expected in many ways and the original plans I made had to be changed all the time. Whether it was because of the lack of certain materials, tools which couldn’t be used directly at the site or a heap of other obstacles, we had to improvise all the time. But that’s what made this experience so special also from a professional point of view. Having worked in different countries (e.g. Colombia and Abu Dhabi) I thought I came prepared, but then again it’s Africa and everything works differently. So without the local knowledge of the guys from Project Vita, who know their way around, this project wouldn’t have been the great success it now feels like.

 

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The team

 

One thing I really like about projects like this: everyone can help! Since you have to rethink your approach to work totally, I’m convinced that professional background doesn’t matter. And to the people who live their everyday life with barely nothing it means so much that there are people who want to make a change. I will never forget the unbelieving expression in the eyes of the kids of Nhangau, when they realized what we were doing for them. Especially the personal insights made this project such a rewarding experience for me and I can just encourage everyone to go out there and do good!

 

 

Felix Stridde, Berlin, Germany

 

 

 

From one of the richest countries in the world to one of the poorest

’From one part of the world where I hardly have a worry in the everyday life, I have often thought about doing something to help other people. People who haven’t been as lucky as me and got all the choices and opportunities you can ask for. Having followed the work of the project vita from Norway and heard stories from other volunteers who visited Beira I felt confident that this was an organization that works hard to create a stabil model to improve the life of the people in the village of Nhangau. I was actually backpacking through South East Asia and was not even halfway done before I heard that Project Vitas next project was to build a playground for children, so I just booked a ticket to Beira and went to help out. On my way over I got a cold so I  had to stop in Zimbabwe for three days and lock myself into a hotel room and recover before continuing.IMG_0433 After a long journey with illness, connection flights and a lot of waiting I reached the airport in Beira at night. The founder of organization himself came to pick me up. He was still dirty after a hard day of work on the field. From there it was arranged transportation from the airport, late dinner and a bed for me to get some sleep. The next day I found myself standing with shovel digging holes in the ground along with local volunteers. For me it’s nice to know that I work with those I’m involved helping so I can better understand and learn whats happening around me. In my case, I am a person who can vouch for that hard work beats talent. I work in a team with two guys where one is an engineer and the other a coordinator. I haven’t got any experience from construction industry, volunteer work or the culture in Mozambique but it just shows that everyone can help.

Even Holtar from Norway

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O arquiteto

From this day we have three weeks more of our work here. Maybe you were expecting a lot more information about our work at this blog, were you? Maybe expecting photos and descriptions of what we are doing exactly?

Well, that was never the intention. The intention was about sharing reflections. My reflections of our work here. Or my reflections in general about being a foreigner in a very distant land.

And wow, I have had reflections, a lot of them. So where to start and where to pick is very difficult for me. I think I stopped writing here for a while because I was overwhelmed by impressions. I couldn´t sort it out.

To find my own role in this whole process hasn´t been totally easy, that´s one thing that has been on my mind. I came here to share some ideas about building, but of course it became bigger than that. Sometimes I felt it even became a little bit to big. Especially when media was getting involved in the process. This started to stress me out.

Swedish papers have started to get involved and they have written about us. Radio is making interviews. And we start having discussions about how we should show the best side of ourselves. I think this is one thing that really stressed me and maybe still stresses me. I want no part of that. I want to be myself and not become a politician that must carefully choose his words everytime he appears in whatever situation. To me that is a crazy world, the world where we have to always manipulate everything around us and ourselves.

If you are a genuinely good person with good intentions then there is no need to manipulate anything, you are already doing everything you can to change the world into something that will reflect you and your good intentions.

I want to build a good house in a good way with good people. When I sit with my new friends in the little village of Nhangau and eat lunch with them, the wind is playing in the grass and the laughter of children can be heard around the corner. We talk and joke with eachother. We share our backgrounds in all the little actions we do, like the way we eat. We Swedish people are not very used to eat with our hands, which sometimes creates laughter in our friends. There is no politics and no fear between us. We are human beings. Sharing, laughing, enjoying and building something beautiful together.

It is a very healthy process that we have here. People are enjoying themselves at the same time as they are building something good. A process like that grows by itself. Which is clearly experienced:

People around us are getting involved. We don´t even have to ask them. They ask us. We have made a lot of friends in the city, in Beira, which is the big city close to the village of Nhangau(where we build). And now these friends have started to help us out. They give the volonteers gifts to help them and their families. They help us with transporting material and sharing our ideas with friends.

The architect, aka “o arquiteto”, is a very beautiful example of one of those people that help us. He came to see our building site in the beginning of our time here. And now he has been helping us many times in different ways. And I know that he is especially drawn to this project because of many reasons. And the strongest reason is not that it is a building that we are building and he is an architect. The strongest reason is the joy of joining this whole process.

And joy can only prevail fully in the healthiest of environments. The environment which is free from manipulation.

So I hope that I, and my friends, will not take the Swedish newspapers and radio channels with to much gravity. Because it doesn´t really matter if we look beautiful or say beautiful words. What matters is that we feel joy and peace. Eventually that is what will be seen by everyone.