Non classé

Doing better with less; could a frugal approach to design thinking help humanitarian innovation?

Cass Business School/City University
sous la direction de Dr Neil Maiden


Innovation means finding new and useful solutions to real problems. There is often no shortage of new ideas, but it is very hard to turn concepts into products and services that help the people who need it most. This paper outlines a new approach to humanitarian innovation and design thinking which roots the solution in the place where it will be used. It has been developed so that remote networks can collaborate – often without ever physically meeting – and make the most of their combined experience and expertise. This is necessary because despite huge investment in humanitarian innovation, very few solutions have successfully scaled and solved the problem they were built for. The research found that the design approach is a critical factor – there appears to be a gap between what people and problems need and what current design thinking approaches deliver. This research explored the integration of frugal innovation theory, design thinking and the delivery of humanitarian innovation to create a new model, which was tested and assessed by practitioners.


I have worked in the humanitarian sector for many years and seen many well-intentioned innovation projects fail. I knew there had to be a better way to connect diverse networks for experts with humanitarian experts and service users. I explored the literature, created and tested a model, and gathered evidence for impact of a new approach to design thinking specifically created for the humanitarian frontline.