Social Design is an evidence-based approach to problem-solving. It’s a process that includes a discovery phase to understand user needs, pain points, and success, followed by a prototype phase where solutions are tested and iterated upon until success is reached. It sounds linear, but in reality, it’s a continuous feedback loop that looks kind of like the CSI logo.
How is it different than other design disciplines? Good question. Social Design is in the same family as User-Centered Design, or Design Thinking, in the sense that the process itself is most important because the solutions are emergent rather than prescriptive. Therefore, the outcome could take the form of a product, service, communication, service, system, or experience.
Select principles of Social Design:
– Rely on experiments more than plans
– The process is the strategy
– Human capacity is the goal
For example, say we want to turn an office into a zero-waste space. We might default to updating the recycling signs, sending newsletter announcements, and maybe offering incentives for “bringing your own bag or bottle.” Or we can set a discovery phase and understand how our users feel, how the system works, where are the breaks in the system, and what interventions can be designed to reach success of diverting 90% of our waste from landfill.
This How To CSI will be a presentation of how the CSI NYC went from 40% to nearly 80% waste diversion through a process of discovering and testing.