Design disciplines are known to offer well-integrated solutions to challenges which are complex, uncertain and contested by multiple stakeholders. Development issues confronting any society are also complex, multi-layered, and determined by deeply held beliefs, stereotypes, norms and traditions. The design thinking approach holds huge potential for achieving the development goals and while principles of good design are well established, there has been limited integration of design thinking with sustainability science.
Mission Samriddhi has been a pioneer in applying the design thinking approach to the challenges of sustainable development in India. Mission Samriddhi, believes Design Thinking is a human-centred approach to problem-solving, thus enabling ordinary people to do extraordinary things.The Design Thinking process goes beyond the mere use of Design Thinking Tools. It involves the rigour of understanding requirements – stated and unstated, observing and clustering patterns, connecting the dots, and unearthing blind spots.
Asking the questions over and over again to understand why things work the way they do till it is no longer a mystery but become a heuristic is at the core of designing the thinking. Going further and deeper to decode the problem so that the solution is almost like an algorithm that can be repeated again and again to give the same result, is what design thinking does. It can therefore be used to solve some of the most challenging problems in the development sector to bring in the sustainable and holistic development of our rural communities.
A compass for holistic development of the Individual and the Community. Be it in the world of business or social development, the greatest of challenges have been solved using a human-centric approach through a process of listening, observation, deep dialogue, prioritization, brainstorming, convergence, prototyping, and storytelling. Understanding what is fundamentally required and then designing solutions that are not just feasible but also sustainable to create lasting impact is the crux of Design Thinking.
Ring 1 espouses the values we cherish as human beings, make us valuable members of our society and bind us with a sense of belonging. A value system built on values of Love & Caring, Trust, Community Spirit, Empathy, Pride, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Passion, Sensitivity, Joy which are fundamental to the sustenance of the community.
Ring 2 is a comprehensive list of all the members of the Community – infants, children, young adults, adults, elderly, disabled, those needing continuous care etc etc. It is important to understand all the constituents in the community before we start understanding their needs and aspirations.
Ring 3 goes on to list all the enablers to lead a decent quality of life including - Food and Nutrition, Water, Health & Hygiene, Sanitation, Housing & Habitat, Energy, Livelihood - Agriculture /Livestock, Livelihood – Allied industries, Value Chain & Distribution, Infrastructure Connectivity Services (roads /civil works), Essential Services (Police, Judiciary, Emergency Disaster management preparedness), Education, Skills Development, Financial and digital literacy, Culture & Heritage, Recreation & Wellbeing, Parks & Water bodies and a Community Development centre.
Ring 4 lays out the importance of conserving our natural resources from an ecological standpoint and therefore outlines the important elements of the same - Scientific Agricultural Practices, Watershed management, water table rejuvenation and conservation, Land Resource Management (including commons), Recycling & waste management and biodiversity conservation.
Ring 5 outlines those important elements that are required to inspire, inform, ideate, interact, influence and impact any holistic development to happen at scale. These include – Knowledge management, Leadership and capability building, Innovation, Technology, Communication and Marketing, Access and Adoption and Robust Models/Frameworks for scale.
Ring 6 is focused around action and lists out all the Enabling Organizations and their systems which leverage the elements in Ring 5 without compromising the elements in Ring 4 and yet offer all the services listed in Ring 3 for all the stakeholders listed in Ring 2 and strengthen the values espoused in Ring 1 to ultimately achieve a sense of belonging based on holistic development for the Individual and the Community. Some of these organizations include Government programmes of Centre/State/Panchayats, Banks, Civil society organizations, Banks, Farmer Producer Organizations, Cooperatives, Academic and Research Institutions, Voluntary organizations, Foundations etc.
Ring 7 finally looks at two major elements namely Governance and Impact Assessment. Therefore frameworks are required for Governance and Impact assessment of the Enabling Organizations listed in Ring 6.
In summary, the Catalyst Wheel provides us a compass to look at the big picture in totality. By no means, can we term it as all-inclusive and final. Neither is it cast in stone that it cannot be modified based on changing circumstances. It is truly an outcome of a Design Thinking approach wherein collective minds collaborated to co-create a framework that showcases the journey towards a sense of belonging, only achieved when there is a sense of ownership.
Applying design thinking, Mission Samriddhi evolved Community Development Framework (CDF) in consultation with academicians, policymakers and development professionals to address the complex development challenges. The Community Development Framework (CDF) adopts an integrated approach to Personal, Social, Economic, Ecological and Institutional development, with a firm belief in leveraging four levers- the Sensitivity of the grass-roots organisations/community, the Agility of the Corporates, the Scale of the Government and the Power of good media.
Keeping a cluster of Gram Panchayats as the basic unit of development, the CDF is implemented in chosen clusters through the Cluster Development Program (CDP).