Getting Started with Designing in Social Development: Part 2

From the previous learnings, we can be sure that however is the person, is full of thoughts, ideas, and opinions. These thoughts can be rational, emotional, and random depending upon our circumstances. However, be the thoughts we can sure to make it into either design thinking or design something of it anytime, anywhere, and anyhow. We are all surrounded by thousands and millions of designs around us, so much that we can’t even imagine counting. In our daily life the brush we use in the morning or the soap that we need to bathe or the plates that hold our foods or the dress we wear, all are designed to ease our needs.

In social development, we practice similar thoughts, ideas, and actions to design systematic innovations to improve the prevailing social problems. Here the designs can be in form of product, service, idea, or anything that compliments them. As a strategic and communication person in my host organization, I practised some designs in form of documents like visual presentations, infographics, brochures, case studies, best practices, tools for organizing Focused Group Discussions, and progress reports- quarterly & annually. All these designs were the project strategic needs and sharing of the right set of information, activities, and engagements. These were the means to reach the women farmers (beneficiary groups), governments, communities, partner organizations, and common people.

Based on my understandings, practice, and experiences I imagine six stages involved in designing. This starts from the scratch of thoughts in ideation to taking rightful actions to get a final design ready to use. Here I have listed the stages with few examples (wherever possible):

Stage 1: Ideation

Our minds are shaped so as to always be in the continued thinking process of something or the other. These thoughts are developed to follow some process, information, views, or any messages in the mind. Here we actually are in cognition to the circumstances and attempt to see it as connecting dots to perform the next activity. This phase deals with the ideation, learning & researching more to organize thoughts going into the mind.

Example: For writing this blog, I started with a raw idea in my mind to write something about demonstrating the designing process with examples from my experiences in a phased manner.

Stage 2: Drafting the notes

This starts with putting the thoughts in some notes (can be either organized or unorganized). Refining the notes is a continued process to organize the thoughts in writing, sketching or pictorial forms. This phase includes any one or more from the set of bullets, descriptions, supplementary resources, headings, and subheadings in a paper or digital manner.

Stage 3: Choosing a layout that best suits the need

This phase supports us from the existing samples to match and prepare a layout. This layout must be in the way to organize our ideas and give a frame.

Example: Going to Canva or such a platform to get thousands of existing design layouts. For a presentation, we can choose from the most matching sample that connects our purpose.

Some sample layouts for designing presentations on Canva
Some sample layouts for designing presentations on Canva. Photo Credits: Canva

Stage 4: Developing the first draft

In this phase, we join our notes developed to the layout that we selected. Herewith are the available different sets of elements we optimize our design. This gives us a fair chance of imaging our design and getting it possible. This is as simple as using different colours and shades on a sheet of paper, making sure that we organize our prepared notes with the layout. This gives us the first draft ready to share.

Stage 5: Getting suggestions and feedbacks

The first draft is shared among teams to know about the improvement areas. The concerning people look into the design, have their insights shared in the form of feedbacks. This feedbacks are very important in giving diverse opinions towards the work and support the cognition process.

Stage 6: Finalizing the design

This phase has a special significance to give place of many considerations towards feedbacks and reviews. Improving the design is an ongoing process and value additions can happen at the time of finalizing. This can involve repetition of the previous processes as well for improving the effectiveness.

Magical Moon Canvas Bulletin: In a self-practice innovation, I have designed a bulletin board for expressing such designs in my room. Here I have made three sections: personal, professional deliverables, and monthly planning & activities. In the personal part, I put all my about myself, poems, belongings, and the social media activity highlights. In the professional part, I display the deliverables that were designed in that month. Lastly, I put my planning & accomplishment happening for the past and present month in the third section. This always boosts me and gives me a sense of responsibility for who I am. It is somewhere adding to my self-accountability and free expressions to serve, learn and lead.

Magical Moon Canvas Bulletin to demonstrate all my designs, fellowship deliverables and personal expressions.
Magical Moon Canvas Bulletin to demonstrate all my designs, fellowship deliverables, and personal expressions.

Shashi is serving as an American India Foundation (AIF) Clinton Fellow with Srijan Foundation in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. For his fellowship project, he is developing strategic initiatives to inform women farmers about various models and organic farming to increase production and ensure household-level food and nutrition security through better income and livelihood opportunities. Shashi was born in Aurangabad, Bihar, and brought up in Jaduguda, in Jamshedpur, an uranium township of India. He completed his schooling in Computer Science from the Central School. He graduated in Mass Communication in order to connect with rural people. During his studies, he enjoyed learning about photography, documentary making, advertising, public relations, rural development and new media. With this, he started the Garib Samachar initiative with three peers to make social documentaries of communities on varied social issues. He served as a Gandhi Fellow in the Transformation of Aspirational District Programme of NITI Aayog in Begusarai, Bihar. This equipped him with proper professional skills, capacity building, and provided him with a platform to work on quality education. He supported 129 government schools in two block-level education departments through capacitive building of block officers, cluster coordinators, head masters, teachers and community on more than 6 school processes. Later he was selected for a special project to support the Jehanabad district administration in documentation and strategy creation for Jal Shakti Abhjiyan under the guidance of the District Magistrate. After the successful completion, Shashi released a self-made documentary about Jal Shakti Abhiyan Jehanabad by Shri Barun Mitra, Ad. Secretary, Defence Production with Jehanabad DM and district administration. He wants to serve communities in their development (physical, cognitive, social, and spiritual) process and public policy to witness the change. He wants to promote stories of change through the means of storytelling and social documentaries. He believes in the power of stories to transform lives in the context of India.

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