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Creative Problem Solving in Social Impact Initiatives through Design Thinking Skills

Alongside 3 civil society organisations (CSO) in Hong Kong, Peace Generation fellows tackled social issues creatively through a 6-week Design Thinking journey with CaaS.

Peace Generation is a non-profit organization that focuses on conflict transformation and peace education. Since early 2021, Peace Generation has successfully held 3 cohorts of Peace Fellowship, a program that brings together young people interested in social, political and cultural issues, to re-examine and rethink contemporary issues through the peace lens. The Peace Fellowship is designed as a foundational course of peace studies. The first part of the fellowship consists of a series of workshops, site visits, and discussions.

CaaS was engaged in the January 2022 cohort as Design Thinking trainers and coaches for the second part of the Peace Fellowship, the Peace Lab, a hands-on component of the Fellowship in which 11 fellows tackled social issues through applying the Design Thinking methodology and other peace-building skills, for example conflict analysis and mapping, nonviolent communication. 


3 teams of 3 to 4 Fellows were matched with CSOss in Hong Kong, including Health In Action (醫護行者), Making on Loft (樂在製造), and HER Fund (婦女動力基金), to gain deep understanding of a target segment, frame their challenges, and identify tangible solutions. The goal of the Peace Lab focuses on empowering Fellows that they can help on “wicked” social issues creatively and tangibly, emphasizing on empathy and peacemaking skills such as nonviolent communication.  

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Creative problem solving journey

The journey started with Amy and Jane, trainers from CaaS, hosting a half-day training workshop to introduce problem solving through Design Thinking. In the intensive and energetic session, the Peace fellows participated in a series of hands-on activities to empathize with users by observation and applying nonviolent communication skills, identified problems on functional and emotional levels, ideating numerous ideas, and developing concepts of potential solutions.  

The expectation was not to master

Design Thinking skills, but to get a taste of the methodology, analyzing findings on different levels, and experience the power of limitless ideation.

After the introductory workshop, the 3 teams were matched with a CSO, and started immersing in the areas of interest and identifying topics relevant to the CSO. In the following 6 weeks, the teams met with Amy and Jane 5 times (face-to-face and online), in which all 3 teams had a chance to share their progress, get feedback from coaches and Peace Generation colleagues, and cross-pollinate ideas in other teams. The proactive and passionate teams had significant progress throughout the 6 weeks and managed to create and test simple prototypes with their users despite challenges in the process of exploration, which are key to the experiential learning experience. 

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The 3 teams presented their concepts, outcomes of prototype testing, and potential tangible next steps to the CSO stakeholders. The CSO stakeholders were impressed and receptive of the solutions presented. Although it was called a “final presentation”, there is interest and motivation from the Fellows and the CSO side to continue exploring and iterating – a desired outcome of the Peace Lab. Several Fellows reflected on learnings in the program, including gaining new perspectives of issues through empathy, and coming to realization that Design Thinking can be applied to everyday lives.  

Experitential Learning Programme

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