Design Partnerships

Picture Impact
2 min readFeb 22, 2021
The image shows post-its of different colors (orange, blue, and green) stuck on top of a desk. There is some writing on the post-its. There are other papers and photographs on the desk.

Some of our best work is done through design partnerships-a long-term agreement to provide evaluation and design services alongside a project. A design partnership results in custom tools, processes, and user-centered solutions that arise out of the collaboration rather than as items that are discreetly procured. Worlds of possibility are opened when pre-defined outcomes and solutions are not the driving force for work, but relationships and people are put center stage.

Design partnership in action

We worked with MWENDO and 4Children on a case management toolkit for complex behavior challenges in lower literacy contexts. The toolkit we developed over 2+ years gave space and time for deep listening, creative thinking, co-creation, and iterative prototyping. In the beginning, we had just a few hints of what was needed: case managers were community volunteers with lower literacy, and the program had to be laser-focused on progress tracking. What unfolded is far more comprehensive and nuanced than we could have imagined. Read more about it here.

Illustration shows a series of text and drawings representing Case Management Staff, Social Workers, Community Health Workers, and Caregivers

The results are stronger, more responsive to on-the-ground reality, and target priority needs that often cannot be predicted in a procurement process that focuses on pre-decided deliverables.

A design partnership is an exciting way of working together.

Usually, a design partnership,

  • Engages services a specific problem or challenge even arises (it can prevent many problems by designing them away at the beginning!)
  • Leaves deliverables open-ended (instead describes the kinds of services and issues or program functions to be addressed)
  • Is longer than six months (it usually walks with a project just past the halfway point)
  • Integrates with a project (becomes part of the project team or is readily available technical assistance)

Give it a try with us! We’re always open to finding the right fit. to chat with us.



Picture Impact

We are strategists, designers and evaluators. We help people see what needs changing and envision a new future