Methods for innovating with vulnerable groups
Key takeaways from the EGGS for Breakfast seminar
Key takeaways from the EGGS for Breakfast seminar
At the EGGS for breakfast seminar "Methods for impactful innovation with vulnerable groups" in Copenhagen, we explored methods to create inclusive products, services, and systemic changes to help vulnerable groups such as refugees, people with severe illnesses, or young people in societally complex situations. In this article, you will get a summary of the key takeaways through the topics of designing with the user, putting the marginalized in the center, thinking systematically and using experimentation to overcome complexity.
At the seminar, we were presented with inspiring insight from three experienced innovators within the field. First, Alix Gillet-Kirt from the UN Refugee Agency showed us the importance of putting people first when designing digital platforms for refugees. Second, our own Public Sector Lead in EGGS, Synne Christiansen, showed us how experimenting can be used to overcome complexity when improving the public services for families with severely ill children. Lastly, Jesper Christiansen from Bikuben Foundation showed us the importance of developing skills and thinking from a broader perspective when innovating for social impact.
A vulnerable person can be defined as someone who belongs to a group within society that’s either oppressed or more susceptible to harm. The UN Refugee Agency (UNCHR) is overcoming the challenge of designing for diversity within vulnerable groups by shifting the mindset from designing for refugees to designing with refugees. Collaborating to provide refugees with critical information the best way, UNCHR is creating digital templates, ensuring fast deployment of digital emergency responses when crises occur.
Involving the users in the creative process is a good way of assuring inclusive results. Designing with refugees, UNCHR uses hybrid methods to iteratively develop user-centered, inclusive, accessible, consistent, reliable, and trustworthy products. Refugees have been involved in frequent testing to ensure the products meet user needs. Addressing life as a refugee in unbiased ways has made it possible to create stable, universally designed solutions with predictable outcomes.
During the work with the life event Severely Ill Child, EGGS made sure to expand their definition of who the marginalised people were. The seven life events are described as highly impactful events in citizens' lives needing better public services as support. During their work, EGGS acknowledged the families, in addition to the child, as vulnerable. Through collaboration with the families and other stakeholders, EGGS could develop no less than 55 suggestions for projects that together can create more holistic services, offering seamless and predictable support.
Bikuben Foundation supports long-term, ambitious, and experimental projects to increase social and artistic value through systemic change. Bikuben Foundation works both for and with the youth by focusing on tight-knit collaboration. To assure the marginalised youth stay in the center Bikuben Foundation lets the youth lead; thus, systemic innovation takes the right direction.
To act as a catalyst for systemic change, Bikuben Foundation addresses the complex, systemic and democratic issue of youth on the edge of society as a symptom of the structures within the system itself. This means that if the system is not changed, it will keep hurting the same group of people.
Bikuben Foundation's work creates a mindset shift, focusing on the root causes rather than specific numbers. A realization was the importance of building self-sufficiency amongst marginalized youth through increased faith in themselves by developing skills. By mapping out where to start, where the possibilities to create the most significant change are, and where and how to be the most impactful, a mission-based portfolio of experiments can be created. Through the experiments, the portfolio can later be scoped down into a systems reform agenda, describing the possibility for systemic change through a portfolio of interventions.
Utilizing experimentation in creative processes is helpful in innovation and can also be used to overcome complexity. This has been shown through EGGS work with Severely Ill Children. The public sector is very rigged; thus, using exploration as an innovational tool could help gather deeper insight about challenges and create a free space for ideation, leading to groundbreaking ideas that can later be prototyped.
This approach resulted in several of the exploratory developed services being implementable, showing that legislation is not the only obstacle to public innovation. A changing mindset is a crucial element in creating impactful projects.
If you're curious to hear more about the Severely Ill Child project or other examples of public service innovation – sign up for one of our upcoming EGGS for Breakfast! The seminar tour continues, and you can attend it in Oslo, Trondheim, Stavanger, or Bergen. See you there!
Experimentation as a method to tackle a wicked problem