Activity 1.1 C
Observe the problem
This activity will help you to generate, capture and describe first-hand observations about existing services or experiences from the perspective of the user (front end) or service provider (back end).
Often, the best way to learn about problems is to observe them first hand. This helps you gain a deeper understanding of the barriers, gaps and challenges facing crisis-affected populations and those who serve them.
By immersing yourself in the environments in which interventions are designed, carried out and experienced, you’ll be able to generate all sorts of insights around the routines, perspectives, habits, practices, relationships and patterns of behaviour of a range of stakeholder groups involved – directly or indirectly – in the development and implementation of a programme or service.
“When we started Kathmandu Living Labs, most team members came from a technology background. I had to encourage them to think beyond technology, to think about the everyday problems. I even said to them: ‘Why don’t you ride a bus for three hours, and observe what you see in our city? This is where the fertile opportunities lie.'” Nama Budhathoki, Kathmandu Living Labs (interview)
These kinds of activities can help reveal what works well, what doesn’t, and why, when it comes to existing humanitarian interventions from the perspective of the end-user as well as that of the service provider.
Things to consider
- Ensure that you respect the dignity of any community members involved, and do not expose them to protection risks or falsely raise expectations. Be sure to follow up with findings and feedback where appropriate.
- Ensure you abide by humanitarian, innovation and research ethics. Ensure that you gain informed consent from any individuals who are part of the process and have robust data protection around any personal, identifiable data. If you’re recording video or audio, state exactly how you will use the recording and ask people to confirm their consent at the beginning for your records. If you’re taking photographs, produce a consent form, detailing how you will use the images, and ask people to sign their name at the end.
UNICEF (2018) Demand for Health Services: A Human-Centred Field Guide for Investigating and Responding to Challenges
[See pp 62-90 for information on observations and field visits, and pp 89-90 for a template for recording observations]
IDEO (2015) IDEO Field Guide to Human Centred Design
[See pp 64-65 for guidance on Guided Tour and “Draw it!” activities]
Nesta (2013) DIY Toolkit
[See section 7 for “Experience Tour!” overview and observations template]