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Design thinking for social impact


Design thinking is often used in developing social interventions that are different from the practical concerns of businesses as businesses are often known as "soulless organizations" given their focus on the bottom line. I hope that the global covid-19 crisis is a wake-up call for everyone. Some businesses have begun to reflect on the enlightened moments unleashed by the disruptive forces of the covid-19.


Businesses should rethink their priorities in social and economic development with greater emphasis on sustainable development goals. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) would be a good starting point to guide businesses to prioritize and craft their massively impactful sustainable purpose; inspired for social good and not for profit alone.


A highly aspirational massive transformative purpose (MTP) would drive businesses for long term sustainability. A shift from a shareholder perspective to a community perspective, evolving from a business profitability purpose to an MTP of contributing to society and humanity.


Translating the MTP or UNSDGs into a social design challenge brief would help define the initial game-changing statement for design thinking practitioners to begin their creative problem-solving journey. They would have adequate space to ground their ideas in the lives of their intended beneficiaries in society.


We have witnessed that social design issues exist in various parts of the world during these unprecedented times. Some of the examples include broken Western healthcare systems, widened digital divide, worsening gender inequalities, escalating unemployment, inequality access to education, and many more are surfacing.


In conclusion, design thinking is being for "people", and not for "profit". Drawing consciousness of our social responsibilities, we should seek out the most compelling insights from the marginalized, and most neglected, outlying populations to gain inspiration from their experience in the above situations. After all, social issues are, by definition, human-centered.

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