Illustration of a brain inside a head

11 Sep 2018

Seeing environmental challenges as design briefs

How design can help break down and innovate around complex challenges

The Challenge

Climate change is complex. Woven across all sectors and systems, and embedded in social, political, economic and cultural interactions. It’s not a surprise that we find ourselves debilitated to act collectively when we are faced with the scale of these challenges. As much as we might try to predict it or change it, the future remains uncertain.

Designers have skills that can help.

1. What design does well is break down complexity build it back up again, in a way that means it is easier to tackle, collectively. We speak to users and staff to understand the key challenges, and form specific briefs around these. We look at how changing one part impacts the whole system, and what opportunities or challenges this creates.

2. Designers are often faced with ambiguity and we have the skills to navigate uncertainty. We work with people to quickly frame hypotheses, test assumptions, and validate through user research or prototyping. This helps understand the viability of early ideas and understand if or how they will be used. Furthermore we our share processes and build the capacity of organisations to be creative and experimental in the face of uncertainty.

3. At Snook we always put people first. We work to understand the need of different users, and bring people together to co-design solutions. This collaborative spirit is needed now more than ever, to understand climate change from multiple perspectives and make a better future that works for all.

We’ve worked on this sort of complex issue before within other industries. Check out our work on ‘Whose Round’ for an example of how we deconstructed a big social challenge into a simple design brief.

Tackling challenges together

Are you wrestling with complex environmental challenges?  We’re looking to collaborate with organisations and communities, to frame manageable briefs and tackle these big challenges one step at a time. Although this does not limit our ambition, we want to talk about everything from quick fixes to transformational thinking.

There’s funding available for us to work together. Email with the subject line Sustainability Snooks to get the conversation started.