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Five reasons why co-design is the future of social impact

9 April 2020 at 7:00 am
“It’s about putting the human back into innovation” 

Contributor | 9 April 2020 at 7:00 am


Five reasons why co-design is the future of social impact
9 April 2020 at 7:00 am

“It’s about putting the human back into innovation” 

Co-design might be the social change sector’s best kept secret.  

The collaborative approach is changing the way we solve the world’s problems by putting the people who rely on a product or service, at the very centre of its design. 

One organisation that knows all about the benefits of co-design is Impacto Consulting. 

Founded by Tracey Newman and Dan Bentley two years ago, Impacto uses the co-design approach to help for-purpose organisations create empathetic and human-centred solutions that actually work for the people they are made for.  

Tracey Newman and Dan Bentley

Tracey Newman and Dan Bentley

And despite most businesses operating slightly differently in the age of COVID-19, Impacto  is still helping organisations design products and services that really work through tech solution such as Zoom and virtual workshopping platforms. 

So we sat down with Newman and Bentley to find out more about why co-design is the future of social impact. 

  1. It’s inclusive

The co-design approach is about involving all stakeholders in the design process, from the organisation delivering the product and service, to people with lived experience who will be directly impacted.   

Bentley explains that by taking such a collaborative approach there is assurance that the product or service you are delivering actually works. 

“By involving everyone and not just a few internal ‘experts’ from the organisation, it goes beyond just the service, it looks at how this service interacts with their entire life,” he says. 

“I also think that when you look first at what needs to be done and then look at how an organisation can deliver it, you get a very different outcome.” 

  1. Expectations are changing (for the better) 

Impacto knows it’s important to move with the changing times. You only have to look at major social policies such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme – designed to give people with disability choice and control over the assistance they receive – to see that simply delivering a service without consultation is no longer an option. 

“People with lived experience are expecting to be consulted and involved rather than just having solutions delivered to them,” Newman says. 

  1. It puts humanity back into social design 

One of the key reasons Impacto was founded was to do good in the world and to put humanity back into social products and systems. 

With the current challenges the world is facing, Newman says now is a time when a human-centred approach is critical. 

“We’ve got really challenging times ahead, and something like the spread of COVID-19 is hitting vulnerable groups of people hardest,” she says. 

“That’s why it’s so important to actually give these people a voice and then solve problems effectively.” 

  1. It is a better use of resources, and can save time and money

Working exclusively with the for-purpose sector, Bentley and Newman know that keeping costs low is vital for a lot of organisations. 

Bentley explains that by using co-design, you are more likely to design something that actually works, which saves time and money. 

“A big part of co-design is receiving input and feedback from your users throughout the entire process, which results in designing something that people really need or want, rather than what your organisation thinks people may need or want, ” he says. 

“In the end, this will save your organisation both money and time, which we know are highly valuable in the for-purpose sector.”

  1. It builds a positive workplace culture 

Because the approach is based on collaboration, co-designing solutions brings together a diverse range of people to solve problems in creative ways that encourage everyone in the organisation to get up and have their say.

“It brings people together and builds a good culture as everyone can be heard,” Newman explains. 

While this would normally be done through face-to-face interviews or workshops, Bentley says technology has come to the rescue in the age of COVID-19.   

Physical distancing is no reason to avoid co-designing solutions.

“Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and virtual workshopping such as Miro mean you can still host all of those important face-to-face interviews and events that you normally would be able to,” he says. 


If you are interested in finding out more about co-design and all Impacto has to offer, check out:

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