Want to Change the World? Not so Fast.

From Bryan Bell
I appreciate that Julie Lasky’s article “The (Limited) Power of Good Intentions,” October 2010, p. 66) provides an informative new perspective on the current state of the design-for-social-change movement.

The “flood” coming through the editor’s inbox does show a ramping up of efforts by designers. As the Harvard Kennedy School professor Mark Moore’s research shows, to successfully spark social change, ideas are usually first worked out at a small scale, then go large scale. Once success is achieved, the ideas can multiply horizontally (as with cell replication) or vertically (organizational growth, for example).

These projects may be small, but this is also a generation that has had to teach ourselves this process. Better to learn small than make big mistakes. Big change is next.

From Sali Sakai
As both a designer and former United Nations staff member, I have witnessed a clear lack of communication between the two distinctive communities. The social-design community specializes in exploring, developing, and prototyping innovative design solutions to clearly framed international-development problems.

A large portion of the global-development community, particularly the UN, concentrates on expertly discussing, debating, mapping, and framing global-development challenges. These two communities are working toward the same goals but are not communicating effectively. Designers need to learn the language of development workers and policymakers (who are not familiar with design methodologies) in order to have a real impact on societies.

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