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A refugee boy

Recognition for a bold plan to rethink global humanitarianism...

ThinkPlace has won a major award from the Boston-based Design Management Institute for an ambitious project that uses design thinking to reimagine the global humanitarian system.

The Design Value Award, shared with client the Overseas Development Institute, was presented at a ceremony in Boston. Design Value Awards, recognise teams who have delivered significant value through design or design management practices.

Founded in 1975, DMI brings together educators, researchers, designers, and leaders from every design discipline, every industry, and every corner of the planet to facilitate transformational organizational change and design-driven innovation.


Design Value Award trophy  

Organisations from across the globe entered the awards, with judges selecting only a few deemed worthy of a first, second or third place award.

This year the three judges awarded two first places, three second places and three third places. Winning projects hailed from around the world, including the United States, Mexico, The Netherlands and Australia. ThinkPlace and project partner ODI were awarded a third place.

Four other projects were awarded honourable mentions.

The judges said of the overall crop of winners: “This year’s Design Value Award winners are exemplars in their fields, a distinguished list of international organizations that include non-profit agencies, government entities, large multinationals, and regional enterprises.”

“The results are stunning,” they said. “The financial gains, social impacts, environmental effects, and positive results on organizational culture will inspire you, challenge you, and most certainly make you proud to be part of an industry that is a powerful agent of change.” 





The DVA awards ceremony
The project was honoured at an awards ceremony held in Boston and featuring leaders from across the global design world.

ThinkPlace’s winning project, named Constructive Deconstruction: Reimagining the global humanitarian system, was commissioned by London-based NGO the Overseas Development Institute as a response to a system that is struggling to deal with the increasingly-complex nature of global humanitarian crises.

As a global design network spanning eight studios in five nations, ThinkPlace’s expertise in complex systems design led to an invitation to re-vision the global humanitarian ‘system’ through a human-centered design approach.

Conducting research, ideation, and testing across three major humanitarian hubs: London, Nairobi, and New York, ThinkPlace created and led the international co-design process.

Members of the core design team conducted deep research with groups including people affected by crisis, responders, donors, host communities, UN representatives, and government to gather human stories about the breakdowns and ‘pain-points’ within the sector.

The research was used to inspire, provoke, and inform a co-design and ideation workshop in London where more than 50 humanitarian professionals and non-humanitarian ‘disruptors’ designed new concepts.

The project explored what a future-state vision for humanitarian action could look like through a series of ideas. Of these, a smaller number have been developed into alternative models that aim to transform underlying assumptions, incentive structures and power relations in the humanitarian system.

These models are being tested directly within the system and are already driving change.

ThinkPlace designers who worked on the project include Ledia Andrawes and Carlyn James while ODI’s Christina Bennett, among others, provided key leadership.

Other winners included The Fast Forward Plan, A New York City Transit project that used an agile methodology to set out a bold and visionary plan for the future of mass transportation in a city where NYCT alone employs 50,000 people and the system is creaking after decades of underinvestment.

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