Intersections of Human Centered Design and Voices for Change

Lessons of The Change Designers from Action Oriented Change Making

Our honest exploration in pursuit of changing the world inside-out and upside-down through experiential processes is strengthened by the understanding that people are people with feelings and hidden local wisdom is the centerstone in trying to bring about any change. Over time, our belief in the process of designing ‘inside-out change’ is stronger than ever for us to create an even bigger community of change designers and be able to take steps towards what lies ahead of us.

We, ‘The Change Designers’ work with a philosophy & passion that each one of us is doing our bit in trying to change the world. In our own quest of bringing about a difference, we’re thrilled to have met a myriad of ‘change designers’, experienced their stories, that have inspired deeper action in us and strengthened the purpose of our work.

In the course of our journey, we have experienced change in the world and it’s impact through stories, life experiences and emotions. We want to share some reflections on the different ways in which we have experienced change in the world and the impact that it has created on us:

Small “Doings” Make a BIG Difference

Our focus is always on experiential learning by paying attention to the small acts of ‘doing’ that make a big difference. It is the active facilitation of these small acts that allow for motivation, self regulation and support during the change process. It is analogous to baking a cake. Until we mix the cream butter, sugar and beat the batter, how do we expect the bread to bake all by itself?We take simple examples from life for defining and designing change as a process of ‘doing’.

We have designed change through narratives, flipped mindsets and explored super powers through intercations, enabling communities to express & amplify their voices!In each of the steps,change happens through small steps with each of them guided and supported by the community. Our vision for designing change stands on taking baby steps and later run long with motivated change designers all around.

Go Back, One more time

One of our big lessons lies in ‘keep going back’ to the questions with which we started.

Are we asking the right questions to bring about change?

Constantly circling back and joining the dots helps in keeping view of the bigger picture as it keeps becoming clearer to us. Circling back and paying attention to the people we met, the conversations we had, the reactions people gave and the aspirations people have for themselves helps us reassess where we started from and the direction in which the people want to move in.

We count on the power of the relationships we build with the community, and keep going back to places we’ve been, polishing our change process, one at a time. We fancy places where ‘people are’, with the belief that their voices make the biggest contribution to spark changes, big and small! Hence, each story we write, programs we design and the development processes we become  a part of, always takes us back to people, places and their perseverance to seek transformation.

Relationships Are The Key to Change

Relationships and networks of local engagement have been instrumental in catalyzing change. We have committed ourselves to make fervent changes with partnerships and creating ‘in action’ change designers. Valuing every individual’s desire for change and synchronizing it with the community’s aspirations as a whole has helped in strengthening existing relationships within the community and collectively striving towards a new tomorrow.

Each Change Designer aspires to bring about a change and positively impact the net of relationships they foster with the community. People welcome change by bringing others along and harness the power of relationships to nurture change.

Open Eyes To What’s Hiding

Often, the head on approach followed to tackle any problem revolves around what’s not working and why is it not working. The overt focus on this side of the coin fails us to flip the coin and look at the other side- “What’s working”.

We never fail to ask “What’s working” with the most complex social problems in hand.

Good process opens way for powerful data and stories, adding insights to the lessons learned from the past, insights from people and build it on further for the future. Above all, new methods for research allow for new possibilities to open up that have yet not been explored such as with our Positive Deviance methodology wherein the focus always remains on “What’s working”.

Opening our eyes to the hidden wisdom within the people themselves and dispersing it within the community has lead to uncovering hidden treasures. People’s acceptance to ‘new’ solutions increases manifolds as this new knowledge becomes accessible, adaptable and most importantly relatable.

 We experiment with research methods and data points as though playing mischievously yet meticulously and managed.

Read: Our approaches

Connect with Trust  

Trusting the process and the people is the way to engage people to use their wisdom to affect change. Process is as important as the outcome itself, thus, haste, last minute urgency often doesn’t lead to expected outomes and fine quality. Being slow feels painful but haste doesn’t work for anyone. Often, being open to adaptation along the way may feel like slowing down but the willingness to adapt the process as per need actually quickens the process as it then fits the aspirations of people and change becomes an easy thing to do!


The question to ask is “are we willing to invest the time to engage in trust and how will we establish the connection?

Chinese Whispers, Anyone?

Have you ever played ‘Chinese whispers’? One person says something to the other, which he in turn communicates to the next. Towards the end, the last person announces what he/she heard.

Most often, we almost fail to communicate the original message and realize only later what the person originally intended to communicate. This exercise has helped us and the community members to pause, let go off a beat and reflect on- “are we really listening to the voices around us or just passively hearing?

Our journey has been filled with interactions with people from different parts of the country with different experiences, histories and visions has led us to an understanding of the common ground upon which all communities thrive upon-
there is wisdom, power, love, kindness dispersed all around and a sustainable difference can be made when all voices are allowed to be expressed, hidden pearls of wisdom or lokvidya is interspersed and change is brought about from downside up.
We create the pot of innovation through stories of people themselves so that ‘change’ never feels like an extra job to do!

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