Facilitating collaborative problem solving with human-centred design: the Making All Voices Count governance programme in 12 countries of Africa and Asia


  • Carl Jackson


human-centred design, facilitation, development programmes, governance, Africa, Asia


Human-centred design is an approach to problem solving with its roots in commercial product and service design that is increasingly being used in the public sector and international development. This article offers an introduction to the approach, a case study of its application to problem solving with the Making All Voices Count programme in 12 countries of Africa and Asia, and reflections on its relevance to contemporary challenges and trends in facilitation in the international development sector. The article suggests that human-centred design supports a more engaged, interactive, collaborative, and learning orientated form of group work; is particularly suited to addressing complex challenges; and enables more shared responsibility for outcomes than traditional facilitation approaches. The article concludes that these benefits arise because, when used in the international development sector, human-centred design?s methodological foundation in the humanities offers a set of facilitation tools which feel both fresher and more holistic than those from the disciplines that already dominate the sector. Constraints and risks of using the approach noted relate to: availability of resources to support deep engagement; additional preparation time needed by facilitators; and the need for multiple facilitators for process documentation.