September 8, 2015 | Accelerator

Jocelyn Wyatt of IDEO.org advises the Fast Forward tech nonprofits

Jocelyn Wyatt, Executive Director of IDEO.org, told the Fast Forward cohort and Blackrock attendees about her history in the social innovation and international development space, and about how she formed IDEO.org in 2011. IDEO.org applies human centered design to tackle poverty alleviation challenges around the world.

In a Q&A session with Fast Forward, we learned several pieces of good advice:

  • Customer demand: using the human centered design approach, you learn to sell the ends, not the means. For example, to get teenage girls to use contraceptives, you attract them on the idea of going to college and avoiding pregnancy, rather than trying to sell them the contraceptive itself.
  • Machine interactions: people are behind every decision, even if it’s a machine that does the work. The key is to motivate people to use the machine by making it delightful to use and providing a positive feedback mechanism to the user.
  • User research from afar: getting human input is essential, so if you’re operating on a tight budget, talking to lots of people through video calls might be better than traveling and talking to only a few in person. Alternatively, you can train people to do the interviews for you and report back their findings.
  • Nonprofits vs. for-profits: For Jocelyn, impact has always been most important, and she believes that programs can scale in ways beyond market based solutions and financial sustainability – but diversified funding sources, of which earned revenue is one option, are essential.