From “What Makes Me Happy?” to “What Makes Us Happy?”

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Co-design has been an emerging trend in social innovation. This is recognised as an effective tool for a participatory user-centred approach. However this also has its challenges.   Social design agencies, for example, tackle social problems with organisations helping them to design creative solutions to making people’s lives better. The

Co-design has been an emerging trend in social innovation. This is recognised as an effective tool for a participatory user-centred approach. However this also has its challenges.

 

Social design agencies, for example, tackle social problems with organisations helping them to design creative solutions to making people’s lives better. The strengths of co-design here, is to provide fair opportunities for stakeholders such as end-users and service providers to get involved. They are able to share problems and ideas from each point of view, treating them as partners who could participate as active idea generators. They can become decision makers rather than passive recipients of the products/services provided.

 

In spite of these strengths in the co-design process, it also has challenges in working with organisations which have a strict and conservative culture, especially within the public sector. When various organisations in the public sector involve a co-design process, it can bring a crucial “change” in their management, but it’s hard to integrate “innovation” as an integral aspect of this.

 

Co-design is a solution-oriented method which helps organisations to develop the precise answers in relation to their needs. Although it is an effective method in finding answers to needs and concerns of stakeholders, it might not enable them to truly like or enjoy the service. This theory refers to that of James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II in “The Experience Economy”, when people experience something that has a positive impact, it becomes more memorable.

 

It is for this reason that the facilitation of the co-design workshop is important. Designers who facilitate the co-design workshop use visual toolkits to trigger the meaningful conversations between participants. This can then generate an innovative solution that not only answers the problems but also makes people enjoy the experience.

 

Whilst being collaborative and giving each stakeholder an opportunity to share the subjective view is crucial in the co-design process; the key to having a successful co-design workshop is the tool which enables participants to think objectively and holistically.

 

If an ultimate goal of social design is to make peoples’ lives better, participants need to start thinking “What makes people happy” rather than “What makes me happy”.