- *Based on your life experience, skills and interests, what would a design process that is both uniquely yours and effective look like?
A design process that is both unique and effective would incorporate the humanistic and empathic elements to providing our product. I am a firm believer that empathy, the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, is an incredibly powerful motivator. I think our program is excellent when it comes to being creative in order to solve real-world issues and make a systematic impact, but I think it’s implicitly part of the course when we do case studies regarding issues like cultural understanding. It is often easy to get wrapped up in the work portion of any project, but remembering why we are pursuing what we are at the moment is just as important. Something that stuck with me is when Khanjan said, “if your project fails, it will have devastating consequences for the people you are trying to help.” That is a responsibility I take very seriously and I remind myself of this statement when I feel that I need to push myself further for the good of the project (to a healthy extent).
2. Identify your three most important stakeholders and list five UNIQUE attributes for each one of them.
Mothers→ low income, located in rural areas of Sierra Leone, price sensitivity goes up during the wet season, Religions: Islam and Christianity, low education level
World Hope International→ Organization, Core Values: Transformation, Sustainability, Empowerment, and Collaboration, Christian, Motive: “To empower the poorest of the poor around the world so they can become agents of change within their communities.” (https://www.worldhope.org/about-us/), some staff members located in the U.S. and Makeni, Sierra Leone
The ordinary citizen of Sierra Leone: this is a key stakeholder because of the importance of mothers in the Sierra Leone household. Attributes include: dependence on the mother’s contribution to the household, personal interest/stake in the life of each mother, ability to encourage/support the mother throughout their pregnancy, influence on the mother’s mental well-being, and the motivation they may provide the mothers to seek better health when they think about how their health (the mother’s health) affects the whole family unit.
3. Identify three ways in which you will validate your project concept, technology, usability, and business model.
Validate Business Model→ Does it solve a real burning problem? Yes, Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. A lot of women go untested for UTI and preeclampsia which can lead to birth complications.
Competitive advantages over other ventures? Strong community connections on the ground, incredibly important for distributing and gaining trust from CHWs.
How do they solve the problem now? Currently, people in rural areas of Sierra Leone visit Community Health Posts (CHPs) to receive basic medical care. However, they are normally not screened by any diagnostic test due to a lack of resources.
Validate Usability→ How does it compare to the user experience of alternative
approaches? 9 parameter UTI test strip→ much more expensive, more complicated with 9 vs the 3 our strip has (color scheme harder to analyze).
How easy/difficult is it for each stakeholder to interact with the product? CHWs are shown how to use it and read the results during training.
Will people use your product? We currently have UHWs purchasing and using the test strips.
4. Give three examples of something very interesting you learned from a friend that was a completely alien concept to you.
Something interesting that I learned from a friend was the concept of cultural understanding through food. Just about anyone likes food, and I think that a lot of cultural misunderstandings might have a path towards understanding by a simple and good faith act of sharing meals between people of different cultures. I know that my longtime girlfriend and I connected with each other through a different lens when she introduced me to authentic Vietnamese food, and it has opened up my eyes towards appreciating all aspects of cultures different from my own.
Another interesting and alien concept is polyamory. I know of a person in my life that practices this, and although I do not agree with it myself, I found it incredibly interesting when I asked why they felt that they didn’t want to be attached to just one person. Without trying to judge them for it, I attempted to understand their viewpoint, which can often be difficult when it comes to something that is inherently conflictual with your own worldviews.
Finally, understanding people from disadvantaged backgrounds was once an alien concept to me. For example, I never saw myself as disadvantaged due to financial circumstances or my prior educational background, but it wasn’t until I started interacting more with the world around me that I started to ask myself, “I wonder how many other people deal with the same thing.” This is actually one of the primary motivators in my life when it comes to helping those in need: we are all born with different combinations of advantages and disadvantages, and it is something we all need to be aware of. Some people, for example, get upset when something that has been turned into a politically-charged topic such as “diversity and inclusion”, but the terms “diversity” and “inclusion” intentionally encompass a very wide umbrella of things, such as ethnicity, age, gender, major, socioeconomic status, etc.