Human Centered Design

Budget: $10,ooo

Schedule: 8 weeks of preparation and 2-day training

Summary:  Design Thinking is a method of problem solving that uses empathy for understanding the context of a problem, creativity in identifying insights and possible solutions, and rationality in analyzing and planning various solutions.

In this two-day training with members of the SFMTA’s SMART Commute Program we focused on the HEAR and CREATE portion of the Human Centered Design toolkit, and left the DELIVER portion for them to explore on their own.

Human Centered Design


The HCD process uses unique tools to capture the users’ perspective.  HCD engages direct participation by constituents early and often in the design cycle. Also, the process goes deep rather than broad. Instead of looking at averages, which often miss a large portion of the users needs, we look at extremes.

During the “HEAR” portion of the training, the participants used many qualitative methods to reach the goal of understanding their constituents point of view and reasoning.  Through the process the participants came away with a deeper understanding of the needs of their constituents, as well as the constraints and barriers to the design challenge.

During the CREATE phase, participants translated insights about the reality of today into a set of opportunities for the future. The team then brainstormed solutions for those opportunities and rapidly made a few of them tangible through prototyping.

At the end of the CREATE phase they presented four prototypes and gathered feedback from their constituency.  The intent of gathering feedback was to refine the solutions not to prove that they were perfect. The best feedback is that which makes you rethink and redesign.

Through the first stages of this process participants assessed solutions through the desirability lens only, ignoring the lens of feasibility, which is the focus of the DELIVER phase. Here is where they would develop a financial model, identify capabilities, plan for growth, create an implementation time line, test with mini pilot projects, and finally evaluate the effectiveness of their project. Another goal of the DELIVER phase is to create a plan for on-going learning and iteration so that your solutions can improve and adapt to changing situations.