This past summer I interned at Gobee Group, a social innovation design consultancy that uses human-centered design approaches to solve complex social problems domestically and internationally. Gobee partners with the private, public and social sectors to create innovative products, services, and organizations for health impact with partners eager to confront complex social challenges in new ways.
As an intern, I worked on a project that was aimed at developing distribution strategies for the Balanced Counseling Strategy Plus (BCS+), a family planning toolkit. The current version of the BCS+ toolkit was revised in 2015 and provides information and materials to help healthcare workers deliver high quality family planning services to clients. It was developed by the Population Council, who partnered with Gobee as part of the Advancing Integrated FP/HIV Counseling with Evidence (ADVICE) project to conceptualize a distribution strategy for the BCS+ toolkit. Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the overarching aim of ADVICE is to develop strategies and tools to improve counseling on HIV vulnerability in FP counseling.
We began the project by conducting some desk research to understand the different users and use cases of the BCS+ toolkit. In order to do this, I assessed published literature, including peer-reviewed articles, conference abstracts, and reports that mentioned using the toolkit. We then conducted four interviews with users of the toolkit from Kenya, Indonesia, Lebanon and the Philippines and two interviews with non-users from Zambia. The information from these interviews and the desk research was used to inform potential distribution strategies and preliminary personas and journey maps.
This project was one of my first introductions to human centered design; an approach that recognizes the users and their experiences as a central part of the research process. I also gained valuable skills in the realms of interviewing, heuristic evaluation, journey mapping and persona development. I appreciate how this project recognized the importance of putting the users at the forefront of the work, and it’s a perspective I will continue to model in the future. Ultimately, by recognizing the needs and challenges of the people you are trying to reach when building products and services, you are able to have a greater impact.
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