Social Design: An Integral Part of Social Enterprise

Jan 17, 2012 4:01 PM ET
Campaign: CSR Blogs

Posted by Vikas Vij

Social design focuses on achieving a social outcome of a design process. It can involve a design of products that benefit a large number of people, such as a low-cost water purifier for people without any access to potable water. It can involve a design of services such as more inclusive financial services, and processes such as a more participatory decision making process in an organization.

Social design is not necessarily about the creation of something new from scratch. It can show how to achieve greater effectiveness for a larger number of people within the existing systems. Several social organizations around the world have shown a growing level of interest in the potential role that social design can play in addressing some of the thorniest social and environmental issues facing the world.

Social design approach is being used to re-imagine and reinvent public sector activity in Australia. The Australian Center for Social Innovation is using social design to re-think crucial public services such as support for families from weaker income backgrounds. In the United Kingdom, NESTA has set up a Public Services Laboratory that is conducting trials on innovative solutions to deliver public services. MindLab, a cross departmental public sector innovation agency in Denmark, is engaging the participation of businesses and citizens in the social redesign of public services.

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Vikas is a staff writer for the Sustainable Development news and editorial section on Justmeans. He is an MBA with 20 years of managerial and entrepreneurial experience and global travel. He is the author of "The Power of Money" (Scholars, 2003), a book that presents a revolutionary monetary economic theory on poverty alleviation in the developing world. Vikas is also the official writer for an international social project for developing nations "Decisions for Life" run in collaboration between the ILO, the University of Amsterdam and the Indian Institute of Management.