What guidelines should we keep in mind as we work to redesign everyday life for better health?
It’s all about the system.
Our first and most important step is to understand the system in which we‘re working. Mapping and understanding the system is key to developing appropriate solutions, instead of just making the problem worse. It’s critical to learn about a system’s many stakeholders, how they interact, and what influences them. Systems thinking means understanding the interrelations that create complex problems and rethinking assumptions about how change happens.
Multidisciplinary for the win.
Groupthink is a dangerous thing. Assembling a team with complementary skills will lead to much deeper understanding of a challenge and the ability to create more innovative solutions. For example, a team with an engineer, business person, and designer will benefit from different and valuable perspectives and skillsets.
It takes more than a smartphone app to redesign an environment and achieve system-level change. An app may be part of a solution, but it shouldn’t BE the solution. Apps have limited ability to produce change, and are only accessible to smartphone users.
Leverage technology appropriately.
Technology is key, but it goes so much further than buzzwords like AI or machine learning. We need to understand what the technology can do, and question whether an analog solution would work just as well. Using technology for technology’s sake just adds unnecessary cost and complexity.
Remember the magic of narrative.
Using storytelling to communicate ideas makes them easier to understand and remember. Stories allow for more creativity and can produce more emotional responses and support from potential champions.
Equity is a key design principle.
When designing a solution, accessibility should be a top priority. Evaluate designs through the lenses of income, mobility, age, and more.
Design for us, not them.
Solving other people’s problems can often be misguided. It’s important to ask, is this a real problem that needs a solution? Or do we simply lack understanding of “them”?
Solutions for large, intractable problems require systems-level thinking, multidisciplinary teams, and co-creation. The winners of the 2019 Design & Innovation Challenge demonstrated these core design guidelines and proposed solutions that are broad yet fine-tuned, and imaginative and ambitious yet grounded in practical reality. These solutions will help lead the way forward as we redesign systems that shape our lives in order to build better health by default.