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.

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Picture Impact

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