Design as an end-to-end process


We think of a design project as end-to-end when the program is scoped to match the design process through its entire cycle, from informing the program strategy at the start, to implementing solutions at the end. An end-to-end design process is also more likely to match an effective and more seamless innovation process, as a design partner would be well suited to ensuring the continuity of a core group of people and ideas throughout the entire process - from problem framing to concept development to implementation - even if specific specialists come and go.

With design as end-to-end, it is important to think through the burden of proof for your investment. If it is to *develop* a vaccine, design will not likely play a prominent role. However, if it is to design the system needed to track the vaccine, or to consider how to overcome resistance to the vaccine, design will likely have a more important role to play in your investment. The burden of proof will have shifted to open things up to the possibilities of design.

In these types of projects, it has been more common to contract with a design firm who is then tasked with bringing in different types of expertise. Given that design is not fully established in the field of global health and so your design partner might need some guidance in what kinds of partners to bring in - from specialists in certain areas of global health, to experts on country level health systems and how to effectively introduce and implement new solutions in these settings, to key stakeholders who can forge a linkage to large global health governing bodies.

Common outputs or deliverables

Tips and tricks

  • Look for a design partner with strong collaboration mindset and who is flexible about their process to enable buy-in from outside experts and partners.
  • Look for a design partner who is transparent about their process and willing to be open about what they don't know, or even better recognize that they many not even know what they don't know.
  • It is important to understand the capacity of a design partner to manage partner relationships to be able to lead the investment appropriately
  • Look for these types of skillsets in whomever will be fulfilling the design role: Go to Expertise and Skillsets


  • Be wary of the challenges of "inviting" different partners to work together, without a prior existing relationship. You ill want them to determine how to best work together but you may have an important role to play in facilitating those discussions.

Questions for potential partners

  • How is the design process going to leverage other disciplines part of this investment?
  • What is the role you see design playing in the investment and what is the critical value it brings to achieving the investment goals?
  • Tell me about your experience working with other partners and managing relationships with technical experts and/or local implementors?

Resources and links