Why design now?

There are examples throughout history where public health interventions failed until they integrated information about human behavior. Improving sanitation, reducing cigarette smoking, and increasing the use of automobile seat belts all had to confront the peculiarities of culture and emotion before becoming public health successes. Still, public health continues to face persistent and seemingly intractable problems – problems often rooted in incomplete and fast-changing information about emerging behaviors – within extremely complex contexts. The discipline of design provides alternative approaches for learning and intervening rapidly when complex and ambiguous challenges cannot be adequately addressed by existing practices.

Historically, critical interventions and solutions have required extensive time for research to reduce or eliminate the uncertainty of a problem or focus exclusively on measurable and visible factors, often neglecting the fundamental sources of ambiguity underlying problems. These steps work well when patterns of daily lives, production processes, market dynamics, competition, and delivery channels are all roughly stable. But when all of these factors change quickly – as they do today – the standard steps give a false sense of certainty.

Our Approach