Design as mindset.
Typically, design is understood as a way to make products aesthetically attractive or to enhance appeal through smart, evocative, communications advertising. However, designers are effective collaborators across different project stages because they apply a mindset that can help reframe challenges and test assumptions. The design mindset focuses on engaging people throughout the process of developing solutions for them. Design seeks to rapidly move from insights to action by translating learnings into concepts that can be tested, adapted, and improved directly with end users. In global health, design often incorporates a systems approach to problems by facilitating deep collaboration amongst stakeholders.
Design amplifies these principles by actively engaging target audiences to uncover root causes, generate ideas, and test prototypes. Ultimately, the goal of this approach is to create solutions that satisfy people’s needs and desires and shift behavior toward more optimal outcomes. To adopt this mindset and enable the creative, problem-solving process, designers must be curious, defer judgment, take the time to be reflective, and embrace collaboration.
In global health, solutions must balance a deep commitment to designing for people’s needs and behaviors with a number of other opportunities and constraints that exist in fragmented health systems and resource-constrained environments. When framing opportunities, designers in global health must take a broad, systems-based view rather than narrowly focus on the end-user. The design mindset can add value to interdisciplinary collaborations by translating a range of insights from different disciplines into actionable ideas and strategies that can be rapidly tested across the health system.