Design Innovation

JSI uses design innovation as a spark, an ingredient, or an end-to-end process, depending on the need, resources, and context.

We take an interdisciplinary approach to break down silos and foster creative problem-solving for services, products, campaigns — or even something bigger like a strategy, a framework, or an entire system.

In collaboration with end users, we support the entire range of design innovation efforts, including formative research and discovery; defining and framing the challenge; ideation, prototyping, testing; and, managing launch and implementation.

Our Principles

We are co-creative and participatory — designing “with” and not “for” — offering practical ways to manage power dynamics, prioritize listening and reciprocity, and nurture participation, teamwork, and partnerships. The result is responsive, equitable and actionable strategies that have a measurable change impact.

While we use tested innovation frameworks and methods, what differentiates JSI is our attention to participant care. We believe that how we work is just as important as the solutions generated, and we integrate approaches from social work and design, trauma-informed care, and consentful tech, among others.

For us, design innovation is more than an area of expertise. It’s also what we use to reimagine technical assistance and operationalize equity, diversity, inclusion, and localization.

A Glimpse at Some of Our Approaches

Learning, Ideation, Experimentation
Learning, Ideation, Experimentation

JSI works with individuals and communities to package insights into user-friendly formats so that teams can prioritize and align them with their goals. We couple this with a facilitation approach that recognizes and leverages differences between participants’ lived experiences, areas of expertise, agency, and perspectives. The result is better solutions.

To create a cycle of learning, ideation, and experimentation, we focus on moving from the abstract to the concrete — identifying underlying assumptions, mental models, and hypotheses — and using visualizations and prototypes that allow us to collectively test and refine solutions. Some of the techniques we use include journey and system mapping, framing challenges into opportunities (“How might we…?”), root cause analysis (“5 Whys”), storyboarding and low-fidelity prototyping, and rapid testing with users, among others.

Infographic courtesy of the USAID-funded Building Healthy Cities Project

Living Labs
Living Labs

Living Labs are co-creative experimentation environments embedded in real life contexts — such a community, health facility, or ministry — that often bring together a broad range of stakeholders to rapidly prototype and then test solutions to specific problems.

JSI facilitates Living Lab startup and implementation, including defining research and innovation criteria, creating an open and reciprocal learning environment, and supporting the development and refining of solutions. While participants shape the innovation in their daily life, we help them share experiences and synthesize these into recommendations for rescission, adaptation or scale-up.

Trials of Improved Practices (TIPs)
Trials of Improved Practices (TIPs)

TIPs is a directed form of experimentation that allows program implementers to pre-test concepts and behaviors that they plan to promote. Developed by The Manoff Group, a JSI company, TIPs has been applied to nutrition, HIV and other infectious diseases, maternal health and family planning.

The process involves a series of visits in which program staff and the participant analyze current practices, discuss what could be improved, and together reach an agreement on one or a few solutions to try over a trial period; and then assess the trial experience together at the end of the trial period. The results are moved directly into program design.

Democratizing HCD+ Innovation
Democratize Human Centered Design (HCD)

HCD mindsets and skills belong in the hands of local communities, civil society, service providers, the government, the private sector and others that work towards improving health outcomes for all. In every HCD activity we do, JSI integrates strategies to boost innovation competencies, at both the practitioner and leadership levels. We prioritize partnering with local HCD agencies where available and JSI leads efforts to foster the growth of these resources.

JSI uses mentoring, peer-support, and learning-while-doing. We spend the time needed for our partners to pause and reflect so that they might self-surface learning, challenges, and adaptations. We work with them to develop change management and implementation strategies that foster the adoption of new ideas and the launch of new solutions.

Innovation Hubs & Challenges
Innovation Hubs & Challenges

Innovation hubs are physical or digital spaces that promote collaboration and learning, and that generate new ideas, technologies, and ways of working. Innovation challenges use mechanisms like competitions or hackathons to spur radical new ideas for problem solving.

JSI carefully designs and facilitates both hubs and challenges with communities to be inspiring and inclusive. We do this by centering the participant experience, bolstering confidence and peer-to-peer learning, and strengthening ecosystems and long-term connections. We bring ideas and approaches from other sectors and blend them with existing expertise and practices to support new modes of thinking and working.

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Design Innovation in Action

Asia Resilient Cities

Asia Resilient Cities (ARC) is addressing cross-cutting urban development challenges in secondary cities in Asia by partnering with cities and their residents to create more resilient and livable environments in the face of shocks. We will co-design approaches that support sustainable urban growth and integrate climate change considerations. ARC will build on JSI’s learning from the Building Healthy Cities project, using systems thinking and journey mapping to design and test new approaches to healthy urban planning.

Supply Chain Alternatives for Last Mile Equity (SCALE)

SCALE is a multi-partner project that seeks to address inequity in access to health commodities through developing sustainable and scalable community based distribution models that reach underserved and remote communities of Kenya. JSI and its affiliate inSupply, has been applying HCD as the core method to understand how to best strengthen health supply chains to these communities.

HCD Exchange

This is a JSI-led community of implementers, funders, designers, and evaluators committed to advancing learning and practice related to the integration of HCD and adolescent sexual and reproductive health in low-resource settings. Our Youth Leadership Hub guides our work and catalyzes partnerships with young people and youth-focused service providers and advocates.

PMI Uganda Malaria Reduction Activity

The Activity works with the Government of Uganda to improve technical, managerial, financial, and leadership capacity at all levels of the health system. JSI is implementing its Living Labs approach to disrupt standardized approaches to strengthening community and household capacity to prevent malaria and to access high-quality malaria services. The goal is to improve the survival and well-being of Uganda’s most vulnerable pregnant women and children in selected regions.

Reimagining Technical Assistance

This two-phase project sought to reimagine models for delivering technical assistance (TA) and resulted in the identification of nine critical shifts to realize more country-driven, coordinated, and equitable health investments. The shifts represent a bridge between identified challenges with current approaches and a vision for improved TA and capacity strengthening investments. The critical shifts were originally co-created by local stakeholders in the DRC and Nigeria, using an HCD process, and were later refined and validated with a diverse group of stakeholders from across 13 countries through participatory system design. JSI is currently building on these insights to reflect on our role as an implementer and create tools and resources to support operationalizing the critical shifts.

Vx Data Insights: Human-Centered Data for Decision & Action 

Taking an HCD approach, the Vx Data Insights project, led by Sonder Design Collective and JSI, worked to uncover and prioritize pain-points and challenges that healthcare workers and managers encounter in delivering immunization services and monitoring progress. The project generated rich, context-specific insights which will be used to identify new opportunity areas, help develop and prioritize potential solutions, and inform the global as well as the country-level Global Delivery Data Strategy.