Summary of the Acumen/IDEO Human Centred Design Course: What is Human Centred Design?

Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem solving. It’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor-made to suit their needs.
Human-centered design is a process that can be used across industries and sectors to approach any number of challenges—from product and service design to space or systems design, to name just a few.
The human-centered design process has three phases—the Inspiration phase, the Ideation phase, and the Implementation phase. In the end, you’ll know that your solution will be a success because you’ve kept the people you’re looking to serve at the heart of the process.
In the Inspiration phase you’ll learn directly from the people you’re designing for as you immerse yourself in their lives and come to deeply understand their needs. In the Ideation phase you’ll make sense of what you learned, identify opportunities for design, and prototype possible solutions. And in the Implementation phase you’ll bring your solution to life, and eventually, to market.
Expect to find yourself shifting gears through the process, moving from concrete observations to highly abstract thinking, and then right back again into the nuts and bolts of your prototype. We call it diverging and converging. You’ll diverge and converge a few times, and with each new cycle you’ll come closer and closer to the solution that is best suited for the people you’re designing for.
Design thinking at work – positive deviance ; an approach that looks for solutions among individuals and families in the community who are already doing well.
As Monique Sternin, now director of the Positive Deviance Initiative, explains:
“Both positive deviance and design thinking are human-centered ap- proaches. Their solutions are relevant to a unique cultural context and will not necessarily work outside that specific situation.”
First stage – The inspiration space, the problem or opportunity that motivates people to search for solutions.
The Brief – the parameters for the team members
Once the brief has been constructed, it is time for the design team to discover what people’s needs are.
The starting point – observe the actual experiences of the people as they improvise their way through their daily lives.
The second space of the design thinking process is ideation.
“To have a good idea you must first have lots of ideas.”
To achieve divergent thinking, it is important to have a diverse group of people involved in the process.
To operate within an interdisciplinary environment, an individual needs to have strengths in two dimensions—the “T-shaped” person. On the vertical axis, every member of the team needs to possess a depth of skill that allows him or her to make tangible contributions to the outcome. The top of the “T” is where the design thinker is made. It’s about empathy for people and for disciplines beyond one’s own. It tends to be expressed as openness, curiosity, optimism, a tendency toward learning through doing, and experimentation.
Interdisciplinary teams typically move into a structured brain- storming process. One rule during the brainstorming process is to defer judgment. Instead, participants are encouraged to come up with as many ideas as possible then move into a process of grouping and sorting ideas.
Good ideas naturally rise to the top, whereas the bad ones drop off early on.
The third space of the design thinking process is implementation, At the core of the implementation process is prototyping, turning ideas into actual products and services that are then tested, iterated, and refined.
Through prototyping, the design thinking process seeks to uncover unforeseen implementation challenges and unintended consequences in order to have more reliable long-term success.
After the prototyping process is finished and the ultimate prod-uct or service has been created, the design team helps create a com- munication strategy.

Why I Participate in the Adult Sex Education Month Series

If you watch the news you’ll conclude the world is going to hell in a hand basket real quick and maybe it is. And Africa – north, East, South and West – is it.

I’m enjoying Ebony Life TV, great innovative programming, local storytelling and production. Reminds me of NTA in some forgotten past. Commercialization has brought great benefits to Nigeria, the only benefits actually.

The role of the private sector in development

Intimate Pleasures is a small enterprise. They sell sex toys online, the first in Nigeria. What gave the proprietor the idea to set up an online sex shop? Numerous requests for sex toys whenever she travelled abroad. 

But Iheoma Obibi is first and foremost a feminist and a social entrepreneur. So her company doesn’t only sell risqué sex toys, they provide an essential service helping Nigerian couples derive maximum pleasure from intimacy. And educating Nigerians, married or single about sex.

My favorite story is about a newly wedded groom, arranged marriage, who asked her to educate his new wife about sex and pleasure. Its not just about raunch and giggles. Its serious issues that have serious impact on relationships and marriage.

Of course in Nigeria we do not talk about sex if we can help it. Unless na beer parlour gist. It is ‘taboo’. Through her Adult Sex Ed Series, Sex Talk Naija, Iheoma is providing an opportunity and space using new media for real conversation and real education.

That’s why I participate every year. In my line of work I’ve heard it all, the ignorance and misinformation out there is scandalous. Even from people you would expect to know better.

If we leave sex education to the government….well….go figure

That Doesn’t Make Me A Bad Person

It’s over, 2013 is already being compressed for archiving. There was a new moon on the first day of the year for good joss. Meanwhile Venus is in retrograde so I am feeling nostalgic and reflective but I’ve been reading other people’s nostalgic reflections and resolutions instead. I’m not in a hurry to face mine. I’ve never kept a New Year resolution in my life. Besides MY New Year starts on my birthday a few days after January 1. I love to  indulge an extra day or two of festive hedonism. That doesn’t make me a bad person you know.

Even as I enjoy another glass of Pinot Grigio blush, for breakfast, I reflect seriously upon the intricate web that is my life within this web of life. An ancient web running backwards and forwards. Holding you in place even as you jump around in a delusion of freedom.  What patterns I am weaving  into this framework? Colourful? Interesting? What is the quality of my portion of this web? What has my web caught this year? What do I want to catch in my web? Does that sound spooky yet? And Machiavellian? Such is life. That still doesn’t make me a bad person.

I reflect on my weaving these 12 months past. Brutal honesty is required here. Courage is required here. Because we learn by confronting our fears, our insecurities and our failures and it’s really hard to face that shadow. However, successful entrepreneurs teach us to look for the lesson in every situation. So what are the top 3 lessons I’ve learnt this year? I will limit myself to the top 3 because this post and every post till further notice will be 500 words or less. There are many lessons of course, daily, weekly, monthly. I’m still waiting to grow up.

Why 500 words? I don’t read anything that is longer than 500 words anymore. If it’s more than 500 words and I have to read it I stop reading after 500 words give or take a dozen. I’ve started reading 20 books this year. I have half-finished books lying all over the house. I read them 500 words at a time. And like all bad managers I think everyone is like me so that’s how I settled on 500 words. Five hundred words are generous anyway. Some folks  that know about these things predict the future of reading is Twitter and all you get over  there is 140 characters. And I’m down 444 words already.

My horoscope says the planets are aligning auspiciously and I’m going to have a stellar year professionally and romantically. It says my love life will finally find harmony,well I hope so or it is war baby. I guess that means I should keep on dancing, drinking, writing, learning and loving you and me no matter how hard it gets. And none of  that makes me a bad person.

I go to reflect on my top three fuck ups and lessons of 2013 and what that means for 2014. Do you have any? Would you like to share? No? Good.

Little Habits That Conserve Money Or How Much Toothpaste Do You Need

Very little really. I read about it years ago and used just pea size dollop of toothpaste since. My toothpaste lasts months if I’m the only one using it. I’ve been using one for 5 months and it still going strong. Might last me till I’m back from Moscow in 3 months time.


To all my family and friends who didn’t get the memo you can read it here. Now if you promise to use the regulation amount of toothpaste you can come stay with me and I promise not to tear your head off if you don’t. (I used to get really grouchy.)

Forget those commercials that tell you to squeeze it on. They want you to buy as much and as frequently as possible. You got to educate yourself.  Oh and seriously, floss is not optional. I really want to be able to kiss everybody.

Teach your family too. You’ll save a fortune in toothpaste


Happy brushing


Buses Around the World

I can’t remember the last time I took a bus. Actually I can, it was sometime post the June 12 protests in Lagos. It was the only means of transport available. Nigerian buses are smelly, crowded, randomly timed (buses don’t move till they are full) and high risk modes of transportation because you never know whether the driver is actually licensed as he hurtles down bad roads at 120 kilometers per hour.

The mad rush for a molue captured quite eloquently by an artist unknown
The mad rush for a molue captured quite eloquently by an artist unknown

The English bus service is as civilized as the British of course, on time, clean, and only crowded during rush hour when the natives commute to and from work and they are generally happy to stand in orderly queues to board the bus and are sure that there will be another one coming if they miss the first one. The UK bus service is geared towards a structured economy, while I think the Nigerian bus services have always reflected and serviced our super entrepreneurial hustle economy.

Modern British buses have retained the character of their older predecessors. This is an old 'route master'
Modern British buses have retained the character of their older predecessors. This is an old ‘route master’

In Nigeria we have the molue, the danfo and the luxurious. In the good old days of my misspent youth the ‘luxury’ buses were called by their company names – like The Young and Chidiebere.  They usually had quaint philosophical anecdotes written on the side like “At all, at all Na em bad Pass”.  In the UK you have coaches, with free newspapers, free wifi and lots of advertising.

There is a philosophy lesson  on every Lagos bus (and once upon a time on most other commercial vehicles too)
There is a philosophy lesson on every Lagos bus (and once upon a time on most other commercial vehicles too)

I came across a site that calls itself Buses Around the World, not a single one of the more than 20 galleries featured buses from Africa (South Africa does not count here right now for inexplicable reasons). I googled ‘buses around Africa’ – all I got back were bus schedules for – did you guess right?- yes, South Africa. Apparently they are the only African country with scheduled bus routes online.

There is barely any mention of the quaint buses of Dakar, brightly colored and more than just a means of transportation, they are little works of art themselves. Perhaps a photographic project for the future ‘Buses Around Africa’. Or is it too late already? Have we forgotten them in our mad rush for sleek modernity and copy cat western inspired progress and development?

Bright colored buses certainly takes the drudgery out of bus travel in Senegal. They are called demm dikk - coming and going
Bright colored buses certainly takes the drudgery out of bus travel in Senegal. They are called demm dikk – coming and going

I wouldn’t say anyone bus is better than the other by the way, I enjoy the diversity. I would like to say that in Nigeria specifically and in Africa more generally we should do more to preserve the unique nature of what is ours. Lagos BRT buses are so soulless and without character, but I guess Lagosians are just happy they get them to their destination on time and in one piece I hear, and I get it.

Of course like all Nigerians I’ve been slightly embarrassed by the molue and the danfo in the past. It’s not clean or standardized or meet any of the other standards of oyibo and western life and living.  I guess it reflects our general unhealthy embarrassment with things African and ancient. It took a trip to the UK to make me see that? Let’s hear it for the molue, even though I shall probably never get on one.

Diseye Tantua a talented Nigerian artist has made the molue the subject of a series of  delightful 'African pop art' paintings.
Diseye Tantua a talented Nigerian artist has made the molue the subject of a series of delightful ‘African pop art’ paintings.

I Am So Glad that I am Not in London Right Now



I have just had the most amazing night at a very very English pub in the English country side. There was folk music  that sounded very Irish and there was amazing beer that sounds very English. Local beer. The first I tried was ‘Curious Brew’ by Chapel Down in Kent.


Then I had the ‘Blonde’ by Hepworth  Co in Sussex. You have to try the local brews to know that you have been to the local pubs.  Then I had the ‘Yakima Red’ by Meantime Beer.


Being the evil person that I an I also had to try the whiskey that they had on offer. Single malt no less; once you have had a single there is no going back, it is so  different from those blends that one has become used to drinking in Nigeria. Ewwwww.


Taste the real McCoy. ‘Laphroaig an Islay single malt 10 years old and ‘Glenmoragnie’ a Highland Single Scotch Whiskey. Na wa o, We dey suffer for Naija sha. So three beers and two scotch whiskeys later I bid you a good night.


NEW BLOG POST: My Top Twenty Lessons of 2012 for Beginning Social Entrepreneurs

1. Be ready to forego some of your creature comforts.  Ain’t easy raising capital. Accumulate your cash.

2. Be ready to be disheartened and disappointed. Don’t waste too much energy on it.  Depression is for the birds

3. You will alienate family and  friends.  Don’t worry about it. They’ll come round when your successful and rich

4. Be methodical. Build your pyramid. The base is always wider and takes more work to build than the top.

5. If its not part of the plan and doesn’t add recognizable value AVOID IT. That includes negative people, get rich quick schemes, unsolicited advise, well or ill meaning people who think they know more about how to run your life than you do and ‘deals’.

6. Remember to service your debts. You don’t want creditors making life complicated but you don’t want to spend all your money paying debt either. Find a balance you can maintain.

7. Always remember your debts.  Be it a debt for a kindness, goods or services. The friend who gave you her couch for some weeks. The vendor that let’s you pay your bills a little late.  You get the drift? The Favor Bank is serious business.

8. Stay in touch with positive energizing people. Its easy to retreat into your shell and sometimes its necessary but its important to stay in touch and cultivate positive progressive people  who make you feel good and who you’ll want to work with in the future.

9. Don’t look down on the ‘little people’. Learn some humility. Life is tough enough. Compassion is a healthy healing feeling.

10. Persist till you breakthrough. Believe that you can. You will

11. Live within your means.  Scrutinize all gifts. You might have short term gratification but you need long term sustainability. Delay gratification.

12.  Entrepreneurs are risk takers.  Learn to mitigate risk. I learnt to swim at 5 by jumping into the deep end of the pool and flailing around till I got a hang of it. Nowadays I pause to make sure there’s a life guard on duty and maybe ask for some basic tips.

13, Listen to your gut, your intuition your instincts. If it feels ‘wrong’ pass it on. Not every opportunity is the right one.

14. Know exactly what you want and keep your aim on the goal. Everything else is a hurdle to jump, move around or avoid.  Prioritize accordingly.

15. You got only one person to please. That’s yourself. If you can go to bed at night hungry in a strange bed yet still feel you’ve done a good job you are an entrepreneur.

16.  Find the eye of the storm. If it passes over you grab a rock and cling on with your finger nails. This too will pass.

17. Well minded opportunism is a great asset, the Universe is conspiring with you already. If it seems right don’t hesitate, GO FOR IT

18.  Be kind to yourself. Self care and self love. Eat right. Exercise. And be happy.

19.  Believe in something bigger than yourself.

20. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are. ignore the psycho babblers.