Our experience in co-design field
Since January 2016, thanks to opencare, we had the great opportunity to launch and spread a two-year research project, aiming to design and prototype new care services in Milan, Italy.
As WeMake, we are going to approach different challenges, such as:
- Collect experiences of community-driven care services;
- Validate them through open discussion, both online and offline;
- Augment them with state-of-the-art maker technology (3D printing, laser cutting, biohacking...);
- Combine everything we learn into the design and prototype of next generation community driven care services.
How are we going to face them? Easy, by using a so-called strategic design approach.
During the last six months we organized and divided our timetable into four main phases:
// Inspiration phase
During this first step, we did a lot of research at the same time both online and offline. On one hand, we searched for the most popular methodologies and strategies used and known in co-design discipline, in order to build a general background material and information about what is alredy done and what can be customized for our specific experience; on the other hand we organized, thanks also to the Municipality of Milan, a lot of meetings, workshops and events in order to engage and reach many qualitative people as possibile. It gave us the possibilty have face-to-face meetings and to get in touch with different kind of citizens and their communities.
See How to involve citizens in a local community? for more details.
// Ideation Phase
Once we had identified the communities, we defined what kind of communication and interactions we want to test in the next phases and, according to them, we designed new tools and materials.
While we were typing this playbook, we found very useful to distinguish the designed tools into two categories: passive and active tools. The first ones, are more about the tools used by the WeMake's staff in order to show, explain and get in touch with the different audience; the second ones are those tools and materials used by the participants during the two co-design sessions.
See Tips and Survival table of contents for a co-design session in order to gain deeper insights.
// Implementation Phase
It is time now to test and use in real time the tools and the schedule designed for our first co-design experience. During the two co-design sessions, we had the possibility to dialogue and work with people from many different Milanese communities and with different interests, issues and needs. For example, some of them were interested in caring and everyday well-being, others in tinkering stuff and, still, others in more health issues.
Our aim was to create a temporary community composed by different kind of citizens. So, we decided to divide the co-design into two main sessions (May 4th and 11th, 2016) lasting maximum 4 hours each (from 6 pm to 21 pm). This because we wanted to receive as many participants as possibile, since most of the people were parents and/or workers. Moreover, after this two encounters we organized even a last one, a "closing" aperitif during which we announced the winner project that will be prototyped in the next month (July), explaining and showing our methods and strategies to the participants. All the sessions were hosted by WeMake.
First co-design session - May 4th, 2016
During the first co-design session, we hosted altogether 27 participants (15 women and 12 men) divided in 3 groups, which have been pre-formed in order to ensure a balance of genders, age and background. The groups were called “Hammer”, “Pincer”, “Screwdriver”, to evoke object's most common use in a manufacture. Each group was assisted by one facilitator, who had to be able to create an environment for effective communication, keeping discussion focused and providing opportunities to all voices to be heard.
We divided the session into three main parts:
- The first part was very individual, each participant was asked to focus on one or at most two practical needs in the sphere of daily care activities;
- The second part was more collective, since participants were asked to “validate” their issues/needs through a group discussion and choose one for each group;
- Then, the third part was a plenary session, in which one member per group were asked to present the concept of the selected need.
After this teamwork experience, the Municipality of Milan offered a delicious buffet organized by the center of Formazione San Giusto. It gave all the participants and the operational staff the possibility to relax and enjoy the time spent together.
Audio and video of the meeting has been integrally recorded.
Second co-design session - May 11th, 2016
During the second meeting, we hosted altogether 20 participants. First of all, there was a tight slide presentation about:
- A list of the different issues, revealed form the first session and divided into three macro-areas;
- An explanation about the tools that they were going to use during the session;
- A general overview about the evaluation matrix that the staff will use for selecting the project to prototype.
Then, the participants were divided into three groups according to their interest in one isssue instead of the other ones. Then, the participants were asked to collaborate and work together in order to define better their idea and concept through the tools. Obviously, they were supported by the mentor. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty!
As the first session, in this second one there was the planery session as well, during which one member per group explained to the other groups its concept. Moreover, the break-time was combined with the teamwork time, since the participants were very into it.
// Recognition phase
As said above, after the two workout sessions, we decided to organize a last meeting, more like a pleasant time, in order to appreciate the efforts of the participants and to improve their confidence in us.
Aperitif - June 1st, 2016
The last meeting with the communities was totally different from the previous two collaborative sessions. This one was more like an aperitif, during which the atmosphere was very relaxing and enjoyable. We hosted 15 participants and even some newcomers (few professors and experts interested in opencare topics). The aperitif lasted more or less three hours (from 6 pm to 9 pm).
But it is not all, there was even such a kind of "tension" between participants, because they knew that during this last meeting we were going to state the project that will be prototyped in the next month. It was very funny feeling a sort of competition between the past groups! Some of them were also a bit sad when they heard that their project wasn't choosen.
Moreover, we didn't talk just abut the result of the co-design sessions, actually during the presentation, we showed them how we analized and select the final project. Accordingly to our train of thought, we explained our selection process, illustrating the evaluation matrix and all the other related tools, with trasparency and clarity. We showed them how opencare community is actually acting, through what kind of channels both online and offline. At this point we get a bit in troubles, since the european project is holded in english and our audience is mostly composed by elderly people. But we were able to manage the situation explaining them the reason why.
At the end of the presentation, there was a delicious buffet organized by the center of Formazione San Giusto, which gaves the possibility to end this experience in the authetic milanese way.