HCD Uncut logo
Photo of a group of people at a design workshop sitting on chairs facing a speaker standing on the right-hand side

Image courtesy of Sonder Design


Reflecting on the past and building scenarios for a collective future vision

HCD Uncut was an immersive and interactive expert workshop held in Berlin Nov 7-8 2017 to critically reflect on the current practice of Human Centred Design in the context of global health and development and path a visionary way forward. 48 experts working with Human Centred Design in Global Health and Development from the perspectives of providing design services, funding human centred design programs as well as program implementation came together to share and discuss challenges, failures and roadblocks in the successful application of HCD. The workshop ended with a co-created vision on the future of HCD in Global Health and Development and a set of thematic priorities to guide funders in their efforts to support this work.


Opportunity Areas and Ideas

After sharing the enablers and disablers along the design journey for designers, donors, and implementing partners, each participant was asked to write down their 3 key ideas for solutions. In a quick sharing session, participants presented their ideas to the whole group and the facilitation team clustered these at the same time into broad themes.

The exercise created a wealth of ideas addressing different kinds of challenges and topics. Clear clusters emerged out of structure of the ideas, which were grouped in the post-workshops synthesis into the opportunity areas below.

Two women sitting on chairs facing each other at a workshop with papers on their laps

Image courtesy of Sonder Design


Define, Differentiate & Communicate

Define design, and tailor the lexicon, principles, behaviors, and frameworks that surround design for global health audiences.


Adapt & Integrate

Improve design approaches, particularly for better integration with other disciplines, and understand the use cases for design in global health.


Preserve Integrity & Quality

Ensure the integrity and quality of design and research practices and understand that cross-disciplinary integration does not mean dilution.


Share & Learn

Build a community of practice that integrates design into global health projects with the goal of sharing experiences and transferring know-how.


Train & Educate

Expand design capacity through activities that improve design awareness, design fluency, and design practice in communities where the need is greatest.


Collect Data & Evidence

Define a set of principles for how to collect a body of evidence on how the data and results of an effective design process can contribute to health outcomes.


Structure Contract & Fund

Assess design costs and improve the way projects are funded, structured, and sequenced so that they can better integrate approaches like design.


Summary Documentation

This resource provides a detailed documentation of the discussions and ideas co-created during the two days of the HCD Uncut event in Berlin 2017. Reflections on failures and roadblocks from the past, enablers and disablers along the journey of an investment, opportunity areas for better integration of design in global health and vision and scenarios for a future state of design in global health are all contained in this document.

We don’t want to see HCD as this other separate entity that is imposing a methodology. But if we can embed these processes in the very roots and structure of the Development industry, you can still have other tools and approaches, while achieving this ‘elevating the user’ philosophy.
Over the shoulder photograph of a woman at a workshop with papers on her lap

Image courtesy of Sonder Design


How is design evolving and how can this inspire us?

Participants were grouped into diverse teams to jointly envision the future of HCD for global health and development with the following questions:

  • What are the key intent / purpose statements for HCD in health and development?
  • What new value can we create if we can better integrate HCD in health and development initiatives?
  • How will we be doing/thinking/speaking HCD differently in the future to enable this purpose and value to be realised?
There are large, clunky, bureaucratic systems that don’t necessarily understand what their citizens want and how. So HCD can play a role in creating more informed and self-aware systems, both tactically - how do we use data better and make decisions better - but also emotionally - looking at empathy building capacity and toolkit designers have.”