Design is increasingly been recognised as having methods that can usefully be applied to help address complex social problems. This recognition has spawned a wide range of ‘toolkits’, ‘workbooks’, ‘method decks’ and ‘field books’ full of templates and case studies to support practitioners to adopt a design-led approach to problem solving.

We’ve included links to some of the toolkits that we like. Our friends at NESTA compiled the D.I.Y. Toolkit (Development Impact and You) particularly for development professionals although the tools will be familiar to those working in service design in a variety of sectors.  The tools included were identified through extensive consultation with people using them in real life situations and NESTA are keen that you download the tools and give feedback on what works well for you and where.

IDEO’s Human Centred Design (HDC) toolkit is aimed at practitioners working in Africa, Asia and Latin America although the tools and methods outlined easily transfer to other settings. This toolkit identifies the methods that you can apply at each stage of a design process with useful templates, tips and things to watch out for.

The various toolkits are great places to start if you are looking for some templates and ideas for gathering, making sense of, synthesising and communicating insights and ideas.  However, when working with groups who are less familiar with a design approach, we recommend using rough, hand drawn mock-ups rather than spending time and money on beautifully designed and printed templates. People generally feel much more comfortable scribbling and drawing on a mock-up on a flip chart – it can feel like a shame to ‘spoil’ a specially printed template – and their input is more important than a lovely template.

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