We employ inter-disciplinary surveys of best practices from diverse fields and perspectives to best serve the communities we work with.

Our research initiative at Stanford University’s Global Projects Center is examining how cutting-edge practices in crowdsourcing and co-creation with end-users can be applied to enhancing the provision of basic services and meeting critical human needs. We have approached the research with careful attention to the reality that what may work well for designing, say, a smart-phone app, will not necessarily be directly transferable to the process of designing an infrastructure project or humanitarian crisis intervention.

We thus examined key innovations across a wide variety of fields—from new business best practices in market research, consumer engagement and product design; to design theory and practice; to sociological studies on disaster response, community development, and participatory action research; to urban planning models for participatory municipal budgeting and crowdsourced design of public spaces; to studies on infrastructure planning and construction; to global development reports by the World Bank and others; to diverse articles by thought-leaders of public-interest advocacy and service organizations; and into the emerging field we refer to as “crowd science,” which examines the quantitative underpinnings and patterns behind sourcing ideas and decisions from large groups of people rather than individuals.

In addition to this inter-disciplinary survey, we have conducted over 50 interviews with diverse actors in both the for-profit and for-impact sectors. Interviewees included company CEOs; staff of basic services providers; directors of major foundations, aid agencies and impact investing firms; social entrepreneurs; community leaders; and others.

To learn from successful practitioners at the cutting-edge of consumer engagement in design, we also researched over 200 companies to identify five “top players” whose successful tools and services are enabling a diversity of companies and service-providers to co-create with their end-users in powerful new ways. We are engaging these five companies to learn from their models and tools and to understand real-world application of key concepts in end-user engagement and collaborative design.