Article 6

What does our approach to Co-Design look like?

This article is the sixth in a series to share information, resources, answer questions and offer tips and tools to support you as you work across the Southern NSW Innovation Hub and beyond.

The Hub is implementing Co-design. This is an approach to designing “with” and not “for” or “to” people. These regular articles are designed to challenge, teach, and motivate you to explore and use Co-design in your work (and it will have relevance beyond the work environment too.)

All updates are written by the team of Jo Eady, a human centred facilitator, strategic designer with a keen interest in social change based in Victoria and Dale Stringer, innovation specialist and key knowledge broker with Southern NSW Innovation Hub.

A key question

“Ok, we’ve heard you! Many people have shared with us that they’ve been facilitating for a long time and have seen models come and go. They are questioning if Co-design is another model that will be in vogue today and gone tomorrow. We understand the question and our answer is a strong “we hope not!”

This is because Co-design stems from a human or people centred approach and hence puts people at the centre of the design and facilitation process. We are ‘’people first” proponents so wouldn’t like to see this any other way as we know this is how the best chance of improvement, change and innovation occurs. It all starts with people.

A people-centred approach

We want to share with you the people centred approach we’ve researched and co-designed with many of you involved in and with the Southern NSW Innovation Hub. It’s a great example of Co-design and really is proof that working together with respect and shared power can result in a better outcome for all. We hope you will be able to see yourself in the approach and align it to your work, because it’s been built through co-design. In a workshop with Knowledge Brokers at the Southern NSW Hub, the place-based approach was born.

We called it the Triple Diamond Approach and it’s built on the Double Diamond Design model popularised by the UK Design Council in 2005 which they adapted from the divergence and convergence model proposed in 1996 by Hungarian – American linguist Bela H. Benathy. Ours is a people-centred approach which sees people move from sparking an issue, concern or opportunity to defining it and then creating a shared solution to implement. It also embeds a three-phase process where people are supported through 1. to believe; 2. to dream and 3. to do.

The inclusion of a triple diamond, (the believe diamond) stems from the importance of commencing the change process with people first and empowering and supporting open and growth mindsets for the journey. And, finally a six-step people-centred process of discuss, discover, define, design, develop and deliver.

The Triple Approach Diamond

  1. Discuss: Identify and talk about what’s going on and support people to ideally see what they’d like to see happen. See if issues / topics / opportunities of shared interest emerge.
  2. Discover: Name the issue / topic / opportunity and unpack it to the extent that you have a true understanding of it and its impact.
  3. Define: Be creative and work together to see and define the issue / topic / opportunity in a new way.
  4. Design: Create a draft prototype. A model of what you propose. Keep it simple
  5. Develop: Seek further inspiration. Design with others and ensure it gives answers to the defined problem, issue or opportunity.
  6. Deliver: Test out solutions. Keep it small scale for now. Make decisions about what will and won’t work and which solutions to improve.

How does Co-Design fit?

Where does Co-design sit? It’s in the design phase of the six-Step People-Centred Process. Imagine this – one person sitting in a room, laboratory or at a desk. They have resources around them and refer to information and research that they read. They are writing a paper with suggestions for improvement and change for farmers and community members. This is not Co-design.

Now, imagine this. There is a room full of people from a range of backgrounds and experiences and among them are users and those with lived experience of the issue/topic/opportunity being discussed. There are charts around the walls; these include journey maps and some photo cards and key words. There is a small prototype sitting on a table and a diagram on the wall. Both were developed through a trusted and facilitated process where everyone had input and participated with each other to make decisions and take action. Ownership is strong and people are growing through the process and can’t wait to see and be a part of the outcome. This is Co-design.It is a part of the people-centred design, but not the whole of the concept.

But I thought Co-Design is a thread that runs through each stage?

As well as having its own separate stage called Design in the people centred approach, Co-design is threaded throughout each of the six steps. A facilitator must have the principles of Co-design top of mind throughout any effective design process. As a reminder, this means taking every opportunity to;

  • Work together
  • Find/create solutions together
  • Work “with” and not “for” or do things “to” people
  • Start with ALL in mind and especially in our context this means the farmers and community members
  • Engage with others in equal partnership
  • Share power
  • Facilitate a social process driven by relationships and social connections
  • Develop trust so that open conversations about hard things can occur
  • Move participants to active partners
  • Create a process where people have a variety of ways to engage and express their thinking
  • Ensure opportunities for learning and developing together
  • Facilitate a process with a beginning, a middle and most importantly an end
  • Interrupt and challenge the status quo and create positive outcomes
  • Share the responsibility of decision making
  • Build long term connections
  • Improve creativity, focus on users and outcomes resulting in better outcomes
  • Increase satisfaction across users/organisations and funders
  • Improve innovation practises and successful innovations
  • Develop shared and equal ownership of design outcomes
  • Establish solutions to increase users interest and buy in to current and future change

 Is there more details about the Co-Design process for Ag Innovation?

Yes there is! It’s been developed with the Southern NSW Innovation Hub. We’ve included an overview in the next article in this series for you.

Over to you

We hope this article gives you food for thought, and that it supports you when planning your next Co-design initiative.

Click here for Article 7

Click here to see all Articles in this Series.


We’d love to hear from you. Please email through any comments or questions you have. And if you have topics you’d like to see addressed in future articles, please share them here or call 0419 912 879. Feel free to share this article with those you think might find it of value too. For more information about the Southern NSW Innovation Hub please contact Dale Stringer or call 0428 409 680

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