søndag den 7. september 2014

Social Design and Entrepreneurship


Social Design and Entrepreneurship. What is it? I Like it.

By Assistant Professor, Thomas Østergaard, VIA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, Denmark.

Social Design emerges from the contemporary social problems of today

Issues such as health, rural / urban development, poverty, inclusion, educational needs, environmental threats, global warming  and much more are the starting points of socialdesigners work. Another field of activity is the design of human-orientated, sustainable processes and systems in corporate and organizational structures.

Social Design describes a design that starts with people: especially attention and empathy is focused on local contexts, socio-cultural environment of people. It includes “non designers” in every phase of the design process; from brainstorming to the actual design and ultimately in the implementation.

So, Social Design describes a design practice that no longer wants to be a purely technical or consumer-oriented design of products and services. Social Design creates social added value by becoming an advocate of social concerns that the state and the market do not serve adequately or at all. Using the special competences of design, solutions are developed to open up new ways to social innovation as well as to significantly improve health and the quality of life.


Working with Social Design in Aarhus, VIA University College, Social Entrepreneurship, autumn 2014.


This ranges from participatory elements right on up to the far-reaching co-design of products, services and system solutions. The design process is hereby expanded into multi-disciplinary including techniques focusing on true devotion from fellow citizens. And the premises for interacting with other people all over the world have changed rapidly over the last 10 years.

Business schools adopt design thinking or “human-centered” design as their version of it, AIGA created a national program dedicated to it (Design for Good), IDEO formed IDEO.org to address it. Meet-ups for people wanting to understand how to use it to “change the world” take place everywhere all the time.

Wikipedia defines social innovation as: “… new strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet social needs of all kinds — from working conditions and education to community development and health — that extend and strengthen civil society. “



Global natives and Digital Darwinism

Expressions and terms such as ”Digital Natives” or ”Digital Darwinism” are often used by sociologists and anthropologist to characterize the state of the our ways of communicating and interacting socially.

”Digital Natives” is used to describe the generations which where born with acces to all thinkable digital commodities; the internet and all our computerized gadgets. The ”Digital Darwinism” describes the fact that the digital natives – the users or communities of the digital globalized world are ahead of the development of services, artefacts, designs and consumer related products. Especially in the digital world. Brian Solis espresses it this way:

“Digital Darwinism is the evolution of consumer behavior when society and technology evolve faster than your ability to adopt.” (article)  

Brian Solis is an analyst and anthropologist, dealing with “disruptive technology on business and society”. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

The immediate accessibility to other people and ideas in the digital world, related to viable and easy acces to expression, knowledge, education, communities or commodities, may have changed our perception of ourselves and the way we interact with the authorities, companies, brands or fellow citizents permanently.

But, many organisations still interact with the “global natives” in ways that make them to abundon the core mission –  which is “serving people”. By adapting design methods into our social and production lives we may create ways of co-relate and working together productively, focusing on the people you work with and the outcomes you are trying to achieve.



New Means of Expression

This immanent evolutionary digital mean to express ourselves seems to influence on our social behaviour and perception of the world, as well. Organizing, revolting or just suggesting alternative solutions, community based designs, ideas, concepts or changes are emerging everywhere. And, as such impacting all our capacities; business, educations, public services, brands, etc. We are, maybe without our content or knowledge, becoming social designers.

You might not think of yourself as a typical “designer”, but you may in fact design things, concepts and patterns on a daily basis.

Our lives keep changing as we develop new skills as “Global Natives” and citizents and thereby our routine and the fysical as well as conditional / political assets and possiblities change. A public, or company, based solution seeming perfectly suitable for us just a few years ago, may appear stupid, obsolete and unsuitable for us just ecxactly today.

By being more aware of our ability to impact on our surroundings and immediate vicinity we may develop and extract new concepts and solutions together in community based designs. But – moving from unconsiciousness to proactive social design requires guidance and tools. And by letting deisgners join forces with activists the outcome goes from designing artefacts to designing relationships.

This is what this blog is all about. Using design thinking methods in social innovation.
And this is by far just a small supplement to all the activities surrounding us in this field today. I’ll try linking, refering and posting some of the interessting stuff I find on my way, for you to see and share.

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