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Creating a sustainable, future-proof service design may require you to reconsider the way your charity delivers on its mission and its vision. The task can seem daunting but the process itself can be hugely rewarding – it can be great for staff engagement and a good opportunity for boards and teams to work collaboratively.

Communities are constantly changing and the voluntary and community sector is increasingly being asked to deliver more complex work for larger groups of people. Sometimes these challenges are simply just about organisations working harder by doing more of the things that they have always done. Sometimes the challenge will be to work smarter or differently, to improve the experience of the people who use your service, to create efficiencies, or to design a new initiative that will re-energise your organisation, attract funding or meet unmet need.

Guernsey Mind, our Charity of the Year 2018, is a great example of ongoing innovation at its best. Initiatives like Express Yourself or Stop Male Suicide and the launch of a new service in Alderney inspires service users, businesses and funders alike.

We have chosen two toolkits with a range of different ideas for you to use if you have a fabulous idea but don’t know where to go from there. The individual exercises in the toolkits work in isolation to stimulate thinking in your teams, and are designed to work as a series, walking you through the innovation process. They can also be used as exercises that help you in your Business Planning.

We are inspired by the Design Council whose aim is to make life better by design. They say:

“Our vision is a world where the role and value of design is recognised as a fundamental creator of value, enabling happier, healthier and safer lives for all. Through the power of design, we make better places, better products, better processes and better performance.”

The Design Council walks you through a four phase design process, with tools that are ideas for facilitation and reflection. They use the Double Diamond method:

The Double Diamond Diagram


Observe, research, experience and uncover – tools to help you understand the service you are thinking about changing.


Review and narrow down your insights to establish your projects main challenge.


Test what works and discard what doesn’t.


Finalise your project, launch, get feedback.

Take a look at some case studies where the tools have been used to promote health and wellbeing or social change.

Alternatively, for a simple, well-researched collection of tools grounded in existing theories and practices of innovation, design and business development, the DIY Toolkit by Nesta provides a great one-stop shop of ideas and processes that could take your organisation on a journey and you through 10 training modules on The Open University’s Open learn works website.

There are many other tools available and you need to find the right one for you and your organisation.

The Design Process

The Design Process Diagram
  1. Opportunities & challenges

These include all the initiating factors like a crisis, new evidence, inspirations etc. which highlight the need for change. This might involve diagnosing the root causes of a problem, or identifying the opportunities that a new change could bring about.

  1. Generating ideas

Most of the ideas you come up with at first won’t work. But it’s only through the process of constant idea creation that you arrive at something that is radical and transformative. Use creative methods like design to increase the number of solution options from a wide range of sources.

  1. Developing & testing

New ideas are always helped by robust criticism. It is through trial and error that ideas are iterated and strengthened. This can be done by simply trying things out, or through more rigorous prototyping and randomised controlled trials.

  1. Making the case

Before you try to implement your idea, you need to prove that it can work and is better than what is already there. Build up firm evidence to back it up and then share it honestly.

  1. Growing & scaling

In this stage there are a range of strategies for growing and spreading an innovation – from organisational growth, to licensing and franchising.  Emulation and inspiration also play a critical role in spreading an idea or practice in a more organic and adaptive manner.

  1. Changing systems

Systemic innovation is where maximum social impact can be created. It usually involves changes in the public and private sector over long periods of time, and the interaction of many elements and new ways of thinking.

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