Design Thinking for Social Innovation Master Class


In the world today we face complex, multifaceted problems that need innovative and creative solutions. In Nigeria we see innovation all the time, from using stilts to build homes on water to using bicycles to access hard to reach areas for waste collection. These innovative solutions have come about because of necessity. But how do we apply this type of thinking to countrywide issues and how can we do this as individuals and communities?

Design thinking is a tool that has been used worldwide to solve internal and external business problems. President and CEO of IDEO, Tim Brown describes design thinking as ‘a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

Using the process in a social construct is fitting because by linking the needs of people with business through technology leads to success and sustainability.


Max Oliva, Professor of Social Innovation and Director of Social Impact Management at IE Business School, took us through the Design Thinking process last week at Cchub. By using one of the start-ups in the CcHub Incubation Programme, Genii Games, as a case study the participants were able to work on a real problem of relevance to them. Genii Games is the parent entity behind Asa; a range of mobile applications aimed at promoting and preserving the African culture in its richness. Genii Games Founder, Adebayo Adegbembo, at the start of the class identified the fragmentation of their target market as a challenge.

The Master Class allowed the attendees to understand the end-user as a way to infiltrate the market by using Design Thinking. The first exercise was to define the user using an Empathy Map. Once the user was identified, in this case a young child, their personalities were defined; what they do, what they say, and how they act in different situations. After creating the fictional users, they were interviewed and the Empathy Map was used to note defining words, thoughts & beliefs, actions & behaviour, and feelings & emotions. From here we were able to discuss the users needs and how they would interact with the app to reach the child’s goals and aspirations. By the end of the session, to the participants surprise, they had designed ways to connect the end-user with the app.

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Overall, the MasterClass proved to be an insightful introduction to the process of Design Thinking. Genii Games Founder, Adebayo Adegbembo, was pleased with the outcome stating:
‘The event was interesting. It gave me the opportunity to use design thinking to assess one of our challenges. Because each group defined users with human elements better insights around the users emotions were provided. This led to a better understanding of the users problems and point of views. The final ideas put forth by each group offered insights into features that could be adopted to better engage our users going forward. Thanks to the session, there were a number of interesting additions that we are now integrating into our development works.’

If you missed the Master Class you can find all the slides here. But why stop there – CcHub uses design thinking as a critical tool in our quest to create locally relevant solutions to the many challenges we face in Nigeria. We will continue to promote Design Thinking through the work we do so look out for more from us.

You can find more pictures from a stream here on Facebook.