Need an improved solution to a development challenge? Consider collaborative design

Michelle Marshall  at the Inter-American Development Bank: “The challenges faced in the development and public policy arenas are often complex in nature. Devising relevant, practical, and innovative solutions requires intensive research, analysis and expertise from multiple sectors. Could there be a way to streamline this process and also make it more inclusive? 

Collaborative Design, like other open innovation methodologies, leverages the power of a group for collective problem-solving. In particular, it is a process that virtually convenes a diverse group of specialists to support the iterative development of an intervention.

Last year, the Inter-American Development Bank and the New York University’s Governance Lab hosted an initiative called “Smarter Crowdsourcing for Zika“, which brought together health specialists with experts in social media, predictive analytics, and water and sanitation during a series of online sessions to generate innovative responses to the Zika epidemic. Based on this experience, we have considered how to continue applying a similar collaboration-based approach to additional projects in different areas. The result is what we call a “Collaborative Design” approach.

Implementing a Collaborative Design approach along the course of a project can help to achieve the following:

1. Convert knowledge gaps into opportunities…
2. Expand your community of practice across sectors…
3. Identify innovative and practical solutions…

As promising ideas are identified, Collaborative Design requires documenting possible solutions within the framework of an implementation plan, protocol, or other actionable guideline to support their subsequent real-life application. This will help substantiate the most viable interventions that were previously unmapped and also prepare additional practical resources for other project teams in the future.

For instance, the results of the Zika Smarter Crowdsourcing initiative were structured with information related to the costs and timelines to facilitate their implementation in different local contexts….(More)”