Development by Design: Leveraging Design Thinking for Improved Aid Effectiveness
Vasdev, Samhir Mohan
How can design thinking help the World Bank and other aid institutions improve the effectiveness of development projects? This paper identifies six specific criticisms of World Bank projects and a toolkit of design thinking principles - a problem-centric focus, respect for local context, divergent and inclusive innovation, and iteration - that can be leveraged to address these criticisms and therefore improve aid effectiveness. The paper also reviews two case studies in the field of information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) that demonstrate how these design thinking principles can be tangibly incorporated into development projects. Finally, the paper addresses criticisms of design thinking and concludes that, although these principles are not always suitable for all aid initiatives, they represent a necessary mindshift in the mainstream development discourse away from rigidity and risk-averseness towards experimentation, inclusivity, and adaptability.
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