Home > User Experience > Beyond sticky notes: co-design for real – Book Notes

Beyond sticky notes: co-design for real – Book Notes

Beyond sticky notes: co-design for real - Book Notes


How to use Co-design methods to designing WITH people to improve systems and services? This guide can help you to discover.

We spend a lot of time talking about people assuming that we already have the answers or the solutions to the problems. When we project onto others, we often shape the solutions based on our values and how we think about people, even trying to put ourselves in others’ shoes.

Looking for this perspective, Kelly Ann McKercher created the “Beyond Sticky Notes” guide. Pardon the spoilers, but I assure you that the right reasons for sharing them. This was my significant reading discovery of 2021, and I hope you like it as well. 😉

The book goes into detail about Co-design, and it is not my intention to explain the social movement involved, but I would like to share some highlights. Let’s go for it.

This chapter explores the role of power, privilege and equity in co-design briefly and addresses several commonly held misconceptions about co-design.

The great thing about the Co-design process (if you compare it with other methodologies) literally goes beyond sticky notes. The main reason: dives deeper into the problems before starting the discovery phase. That is the ace in the hole.

The Co-Design process

  • Build the conditions: Are we the right people for this work? Is it needed? What’s in it for others? Who are we working with? What matters to them? Who can take part?
  • Immerse and align: Should we be doing this? What do we already know? Who should we partner with? Where are the gaps?
  • Discover: What is happening in the context? What is already strong? What are people longing for?
  • Design: How do we build on what is already strong?
  • Test and refine: What appears promising in the context?
  • Implement and learn: Are we ‘biodegrading’ as conveners? What messages are we getting, and how do we learn from them?

Other than that, the chapter lists the primary skills designers must have to lead.

On the second one, Kelly Ann McKercher explains the most relevant attitudes during the Co-design method, sharing six essentials mindsets for practitioners:

  1. Elevating lived experience;
  2. Being in the grey;
  3. Valuing many perspectives;
  4. Curiosity;
  5. Hospitality;
  6. Learning through doing.

Mindsets are ways of being and thinking, unlike design tools, which, although useful and practical, do not generate critical thinking.

The author explains the Model of Care for Co-design, including creating Co-design teams, facilitation, improvement and design/community development approach. This chapter discusses the importance of working with power and mindsets’ practices more than delivering workshops.

Co-design engagement

At the core of Co-design, there are three intersecting groups: People with lived experience, professionals (working with or for people with lived experience) and provocateurs.

Engagement beyond the core Co-design group can create broader buy-in, testing ideas and inspiring bolder ideas.

Just using the tools is not enough for a Co-design project. Still, it is a significant first step to understand the methodology before getting hands-on and experiencing the discoveries along the way.

Co-Design Planning Tool on Miro

The Co-design planning tool is an excellent way to take a fresh look at the entire process, recognizing what already exists and making more concise decisions to adjust your process for a real Co-design exercise.

Model of Care Cards

If you prefer to use a hands-on method without a computer, you might like the model of care cards, which allows you to put it into practice using the cards as the guide.

The book highlights valuable learnings, and definitely, they will serve as a reminder for each step. Other than that, it is truly a guide worth as one of the fundamental reads for any people who truly want to know and explore beyond empathy and is working in design, service or community engagement.

If you move too fast, mistrust can lead to the ‘real’ conversation happening outside the room, rather than in it. Slow down to prioritize relationships.

— Kelly Ann McKercher

If you would like to discuss more, share feedback or ask any questions, drop me a line or connect with me on LinkedIn.



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