Human-Centered Design Workshop 2016

Human-Centered Design Workshop 2016

Singapore+Acumen conducted a Human-Centered Design (HCD) workshop in partnership with renowned design firm IDEO, the Lien Center of Social Innovation and the Migrant Workers’ Centre. The design challenge framed around how might migrant workers be better integrated into Singaporean society.

The issue is top of mind for many in Singapore and there was huge demand for an event that brought the social issue together with a chance to apply the methods and mindsets of HCD. The other draw was the chance to learn from the best in the business: IDEO.

After a quick introductory briefing, the participants, facilitators, and partners were off for the field work part of the day. The group visited the Weslite Toh Guan Dormitory and the Penjuru Recreational Centre to see how migrant workers live and spend their free time. Then it was back to the classroom to synthesize, brainstorm and prototype.

There was also a Q&A session with winner of the 2015 migrant worker poetry competition Zakir Hossain, Christine Pelly from TWC2 and Editor of Banglar Kanthar AKM Mohsin. The participants were very eager to ask them questions about the daily life as a migrant worker, what financial tools were available to them and what the process of getting a job in Singapore was like.

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Thereafter, participants spent the rest of the day synthesising insights, brainstorming for potential solutions, and developing a rapid prototype of one solution. Here’s

  • Team 1:
    • Design Challenge: “How might we enable migrant workers to improve their time in Singapore with regards to their social and work life?”
    • Prototyped Solution: An ecosystem that facilitates exchange of information between seasoned and new migrant workers. For example, the solution could include ways to improve the job hunting process by applying directly to companies, improving the job onboarding process, skill upgrading and sharing, etc.
  • Team 2:
    • Design Challenge: “How might we help migrant workers seek better career opportunities?”
    • Prototyped Solution: A Glassdoor for transient/migrant worker employers – an anonymised, graphical, multi-language app that allows the workers to rate companies based on job satisfaction, working hours, compensation and safety. The first phase is to get enough traction within the migrant workers to trust that it is truly anonymous and there are no repercussions from employers. The next phase, the employers themselves are added to the platform to address issues. Just like restaurant reviews, the focus is on the positives i.e. the best employers rise to the top.
  • Team 3:
    • Design Challenge: “How might we create safe channels for migrant workers to feel valued by the community?”
    • Prototyped Solution: There is a lot of talent among the migrant workers but there isn’t sufficient avenues to portray them. Imagine a televised talent show like “Migrant Workers Got Talent” or even a migrant worker food truck that could help showcase those with cooking talent to Singaporeans and other migrant workers. The profits from such initiatives could be pooled into a common fund in partnership with a non-profit such as Migrant Workers’ Centre, which could them be used to subsidise and sponsor migrant worker initiatives.
  • Team 4:
    • Design Challenge: “How might we better integrate migrant workers into society?”
    • Prototyped Solution: The “Buddy Box” social enterprise. A Singaporean would buy the box to welcome a migrant worker. They would start a relationship where the Singaporean could show the migrant worker around. A non-profit like Migrant Workers’ Centre could potentially help in establishing the initial connection. Inside the box we could include guides on migrant worker rights, a map of Singapore with top things to do, a pre-paid SIM card to call home, a financial guide, etc. This would help migrant workers know their rights, how to better save money and feel more welcome.
HCD_Panel discussion (800x532) HCD Event (Acumen) 1 (800x532)
  • Team 5:
    • Design Challenge: “How might we promote cross-cultural interaction among migrant workers?”
    • Prototyped Solution: Public art murals that are mobile, dynamic, and regularly change. These can be taken from place to place in Singapore to display the colorful and vibrant nature of migrant workers. Art murals also could be placed in migrant worker recreation centres, which could help to personalise the space. Ultimately, this would allow migrant workers to express themselves and give everyone else a glimpse into their lives back in their home countries.
  • Team 6:
    • Design Challenge: “How might we enable migrant workers to earn an additional income when they do not have work?”
    • Prototyped Solution: We could create a system for construction companies to put in their ad-hoc job requests that would be distributed to workers via their preferred messaging apps; workers can then take up the jobs in their free time and be paid either directly from the hiring company or through their permanent employer. Given that moonlighting is illegal, this solution would be enabled by a contract / memorandum of understanding signed by the company of origin and the company where the migrant worker will be working temporarily. It is intended that the platform be adopted by the group of construction companies that employs approximately 80% of the workforce.
  • Team 7:
    • Design Challenge: “How might migrant workers better track and manage their expenses?”
    • ProtSign up for otyped Solution: An app that offers income and expense tracking linked to bank accounts, and gamifies financial goals by offering rewards (e.g. free movie ticket or air ticket to go home) upon hitting milestones
  • Team 8:
    • Design Challenge: “How might we facilitate richer social lives outside work for migrant workers?”
    • Prototyped Solution:  By reimagining the recreational spaces that migrant workers currently have today. Such spaces would go beyond providing basic shops and sports facilities and could include features such as: a community club and garden, performance area, and dining experiences with rotating menus

The feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive post the workshop. “It is a great way to understand design-thinking in an applied way, while learning in-depth about migrant worker needs in Singapore,” said one participant after the workshop. Others called it “enlightening”, “informative”, “hands-on, practical and meaningful”. Here’s a wordcloud that captures the sentiments of all participants:
HCD wordcloud 2

Along with our partners and the participants, Singapore+Acumen hopes to continue the conversation on how to take these ideas forward and have real impact on the lives of migrant workers.

Here are some ways you can stay connected:

Event Organised by:

Chapter_Singapore A volunteer-led chapter of Acumen in Singapore, bringing together individuals who share Acumen’s vision to change the way the world tackles poverty. Acumen’s mission is to change the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders, and ideas. It was founded in 2001 by Jacqueline Novogratz, author of The Blue Sweater. So far, the $83 million USD invested in 77 companies has impacted 189 million lives.
IDEO Logo IDEO is an award-winning global design firm that takes a human-centered, design-based approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow. The company identifies new ways to serve and support people by uncovering latent needs, behaviors, and desires.
MWC Logo Set up in 2009, the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) is a bipartite initiative of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers’ Federation (SNEF). The MWC is a non-government organisation whose mission is to champion fair employment practices and the well-being of migrant workers in Singapore.
Lien Centre Logo The Lien Centre for Social Innovation, a partnership between the Lien Foundation and Singapore Management University (SMU), was established in 2006 to advance the thinking and capability of the social sector. It contributes to a more equitable, inclusive and vibrant society by addressing social needs through innovative approaches.