A selection of impact projects that I helped bring to life:
Innovation for climate change resilience in agricultural communities
The Airbel Impact Lab of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) aims to build climate change resilience in agricultural communities, particularly in crisis-affected contexts.
Seed selection is one of the most important and high impact climate adaptation actions that a farmer has available to them. This project focused specifically on increasing farmer access to quality climate-adapted seeds in conflict-affected areas.
As a starting point, I facilitated knowledge sharing and problem framing across IRC teams in Syria, Pakistan, Niger and South Sudan through remote design workshops. If you want to know more about the process and outcomes, read this article. I designed and facilitated a process to generate insights on farmer needs, behavioural and structural barriers. This included farmer interviews, focus groups and collaborative analysis and ideation sessions.
In a second phase, I supported the IRC team in translating findings into design solutions that address systemic challenges and increase quality seed access. I travelled to northeast Syria to co-design program prototypes with farmers and agro-dealers. We conducted concept testing, co-creation workshops, and rapid user-testing with a hundred farmers in Northeast Syria to define a solution package, which is currently in a pilot phase.
The solution package includes a) a competition for assessing seed quality among expert farmers and b) a collaborative seed multiplication program where farmers receive support but are also required to donate a part of the yield to the next cohort of farmers. The prototype design has also considered how to encourage farmers to adopt new agricultural practices that improve seed quality through peer to peer accountability and experimentation.
The Airbel Impact Lab at the International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Phase I: August 2021 – January 2022
Phase II: May 2022 – September 2022
Service design for healthcare innovation in Noma Children’s Hospital in Nigeria
The Sapling Nursery within Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF UK) empowers field staff to engage in innovation, solve complex challenges and improve the delivery of medical care. In the context of this program, I mentored and guided remotely a team of MSF staff through a research & design process to identify and solve their greatest challenge. The team was based in Nigeria, at the Noma Children’s Hospital in Sokoto.
Noma is a neglected tropical disease and quite a challenging one, as it carries a 90% mortality rate and for those who survive it results in facial deformation, scaring Noma patients for the rest of their life. For healthcare providers, it is very challenging as well – and strong mental health and educational support form an essential part of care.
In our remote working sessions, I established a digital-to-analogue workflow, so that more hospital staff members can engage with the service design process and to contribute at a time and place convenient for them. We carried out interviews with patients and caregivers, a patient journey mapping exercise and a behavioural barrier analysis, which helped identify a key gap in continuity of care. This turned out to be a behaviour change challenge. Many Noma patients and caregivers struggle to keep up new habits (e.g. related to nutrition, hygiene) that are necessary for their recovery, after they return to their community – despite the fact that they learn and practice those extensively during their stay at the hospital.
We co-designed with the Noma hospital team an improved patient journey with additional touchpoints, process improvements and a “discharge toolkit”. This pack includes nutritional support and other materials for patient care upon return to their community. However, it was necessary to address known challenges, such as sharing patient supplements among siblings. For this purpose we engaged groups of mothers and other caregivers at the hospital in a structured problem solving and co-creation process – to address very difficult challenges, related to poverty and social stigma. Emergent solutions were incorporated in a visual story as part of the toolkit and in future health promotion activities.
Manson Innovation Unit, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) UK
June 2021 – June 2022
Insights and strategy for biodiversity monitoring
The Innovation Team at the Rainforest Alliance has been exploring alternative revenue opportunities (such as carbon credit generation), to fund projects dedicated to the protection and restoration of natural landscapes and wildlife. In the context of this initiative, I helped the team develop a strategy for monitoring and communicating biodiversity results to key stakeholders.
I planned and facilitated expert interviews and design workshops with internal and external experts in biodiversity, sustainable forest management, biology and agroforestry. I mapped out current biodiversity assessment practices and tools, explored the potential of new technologies such as eDNA sampling, and identified opportunities to deliver valuable data insights on biodiversity for donors and investing companies. Biodiversity is very much context-specific, so we established a pilot project to go into detail. We explored tangible examples of what could a biodiversity assessment mean “before” or “after” a project intervention, and how could biodiversity data better inform decisions.
This deep dive into biodiversity monitoring science, practice and technology led me to design a set of prototypes for biodiversity reporting to validate as hypotheses with potential customers. The final deliverable for this project proposes a strategic vision for future biodiversity services that combine scientific models and data with community leadership.
The Rainforest Alliance
July 2022 – October 2022
Service design to drive behaviour change for diabetes & hypertension management
This project was delivered in the context of a broader set of health and wellbeing digital services, provided by an international insurance company. Potential customers with chronic conditions tend to encounter difficulties when buying particular insurance products. On the other hand, early stage Type 2 diabetes and hypertension are conditions that can be controlled and often reversed through lifestyle changes – rather than medication – by establishing new habits in diet and exercise and monitoring the condition continuously. The focus of this study was to better understand the needs of diabetes and hypertensions patients and the challenges they encounter within the critical first months after their diagnosis. During the pandemic, I did online in-depth interviews in the UK and Spain with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension patients on their experiences and coping strategies, in order to uncover drivers and barriers for behaviour change. I designed various individual online activities for these interviews, to encourage self-reflection and at same time to carefully navigate around sensitive personal issues.
Findings revealed several structural barriers (e.g. access to healthier food alternatives, limited information and support on dietary adaptation from the public healthcare system etc). But also emotional barriers – like how the feeling of “guilt” leads to “falling off the wagon and to stop trying”. I used those behavioural insights to design and lead online co-creation sessions with patients for a service concept that supports their goals and needs. Due to the pandemic participatory design activities were performed 100% online. Here is a Medium article I wrote at that time, on how to adapt design research methods for more effective remote research.
The final deliverable – a service blueprint – described how the client could support chronic condition sufferers across their journey to reverse or control their condition through a combination of digital, human and physical touchpoints.
Fortune Global 500 Insurance Company
June 2020 – September 2020
Design Sprint to improve the transportation of Ebola patients in West Africa
During Ebola outbreaks, transferring patients from remote locations to treatment centres is very difficult, because of the lack of ambulances and bad road conditions. Humanitarian aid agencies use land cruisers and other vehicles (e.g. pick-up trucks). However, the necessary vehicle decontamination process is very time consuming, risky and damaging to the vehicle itself. To address these challenges and improve patient transportation, a 3-day Design Sprint was organised by MSF with active participation of experts and field staff from WHO and the Red Cross.
I designed the Design Sprint format and activities, to also include the contributions of experts who were not able to participate. I guided the group through a patient journey map exercise: analysing roles, activities and tools, identifying key challenges and opportunities. We also used role play to “step into the shoes” of a potential Ebola patient to be transported in a land cruiser. In this Design Sprint, I often switched hats between being the workshop’s facilitator to actively helping the team as a designer to visualise and advance their design ideas.
The knowledge exchange and ideation between WHO and MSF staff led to two promising solution concepts that can be prototyped and tested in the field. Participants from both organisations were surprised to discover how much progress can be achieved by committing to a 3-day Design Sprint.
Sweden Innovation Unit (SIU), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
The Design Sprint is an effective method, with well established phases. Nevertheless, each project requires a different touch. While following the broad strokes, a successful Design Sprint requires a custom mix of activities that vary depending on the challenge at hand and the client needs. For an example related to addressing “flight delays”, read my article on Medium: Hacking the Design Sprint method to solve a complex problem
Interested in what you just read and have a challenge that you need help with? Let’s have a virtual coffee…