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    How a Design Thinking Project Might Impact Thousands of Young Peoples Lives — Part 2

    Part 2 of the case study of how I applied design thinking to help young people in care.

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      Picture of Vaughan Broderick

      Vaughan Broderick


      If you missed Part 1, you can read it here. Part 2 describes the outcomes and social impact that has occurred to date.

      The project continues to evolve, young people and support workers continue to use the MVP, and once funding is sourced then we can continue the storybook innovation and achieve our goal of impacting thousands of young peoples lives.

      Design Thinking Project Outcome

      The project has received stakeholder approval to source funding to build a beta app to further test and refine in real-world settings before roll-out to the wider care organisations.

      Effectively, we have evidenced that the solution is desirable, feasible and viable all within a low cost, no-code MVP test app.

      The app on the surface would appear as a social sharing app; However, with the deeper insights of core user needs and the environmental barriers and constraints, we are able to continue to develop a ‘system’ that will enable the use of and elevation of life storybooks.

      Trust is the gatekeeper from which healing and positive change can occur. The difficulty is that support workers (who are central to facilitating the collection of important moments) are operating in a busy, dynamic environment often dealing with urgent, immediate matters which means that important long-term work takes a back seat.

      Implementation will require a systematic approach that is enabled by top-down and bottom-up approaches.

      There are a number of elements that are required for system change in order to be successful, such as – recognition of effort, mentoring, training, space to complete the expected task – and in the long run changing the way in which the support workers work – is a cultural shift.

      The Social Impact

      The size of the opportunity is approximately 6000 young people in care plus their families and other important people. However, we believe that this project has a far-reaching opportunity in international markets.

      I share the real impact in a storyboard of a representation of a young person in care that experienced and continues to use the MVP app.

      David came into care as a young child. Although he has had a good connection with Whanau (family), it has been primarily through visits, reports and occasional photos sent by staff.

      Storybooks were not part of his life and had difficulty making connections with people on his own terms. A two-way relationship was very difficult, repetitive and limited.

      Staff help David to use the app and they also take photos of important moments for him. They work together to build a rich story.

      David is proud to show the photos he has to EVERYONE! He now owns and leads connections and discussions about things that are important to him and can describe the events in detail.

      Whanau (family) enriched David’s story and they were able to stay connected in the present moment, providing encouragement for the things he’s doing and being a constant part of his life.

      David really enjoys staying connected with his family in this way.

      Design Thinking Project Reflection

      There are numerous personal outcomes from the project. However, I’ll share some practitioner insights that you may find valuable:

      • Implementation consideration is critical for the success of any design
      • Design Thinking enabled core needs of users to be understood and then design system elements to support those needs
      • Test and learn rather than build perfection. Don’t fall in love with your ideas, let go of ego and embrace ambiguity.
      • Often with systemic barriers, we may be best to nudge change iteratively over the long run rather than try to implement a big leap.
      • Service Design has the power to unlock latent customer insights that can be leveraged for new services or products or transform an organisation
      • Keeping customers at the core of what we do is fundamental to sustainability and innovation


      Special thanks to the amazing young people and support workers who volunteered their time for this important project. Thanks to the care organisations for offering this opportunity and continuing to support the app development. And, to Dr. Christian Walsh and the CDHB Design Lab for their invaluable contribution.

      Update: The University of Canterbury published an article about the design thinking project here.