Twelve years ago I started my company, Blueprint Research + Design, Inc. At the time, I had a little blurb on the website about the meaning of the name - it talked about blueprints as plans for action, research as our core asset, and design as a core value and methodology.
I didn't realize then that I'd be waaaay ahead of a curve in philanthropy - the design curve. Suddenly, design is now the way to plan in philanthropy (in buzzword land at least, this design activity might best happen in a lab).
Here are two great reports from The Rockefeller Foundation/IDEO (an exemplar design firm) on design for social impact. This month's HBR has a user-friendly article on design as a planning approach. Last year the (new) d.school at Stanford did some great work for GlobalGiving. I've recently (today, for example) participated in several charrettes* for philanthropic projects, there are several more on my travel planner, and a search found several others (such as here and here). None of this is too surprising, as design as business strategy has received lots of attention over the last few years (and not all of it from Tim Brown and IDEO).
There you have it - buzzword 2008 number four - design. It joins the first three buzzwords of 2008:
- Mobile giving
- Outsourced program advising
*I considered naming my company charrette. This could easily be a buzzword of its own.