The Happold Foundation has run a successful Design Sprint at the ICE in London, with trustees, alumni and other industry professionals joining forces to explore ideas to improve aid those affected by conflict and natural disasters.
We aim to play our part in addressing some of the world’s most challenging issues, bringing together people in our industry to discuss and debate solutions. Following the success of our Design Sprints that have taken place under our Engineering Thinking programme, we decided to formulate a sprint that would help us develop our Human Development Pathways initiative. Recognising how challenging it is for those affected by disaster to access engineering services to improve their communities, our Pathways programme aims to support professional development for engineers who want to carry out humanitarian engineering and relief work as part of their career.
Location: Boy in the Kibera slum, Nairobi
Photo by: Marco Dormino / UN Photo. Location: Hurricane Tomas floods the streets of Gonaives, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
After partnering with the ICE and their Shaping the World programme, a Happold Foundation team led by Foundation Trustee Anna Bruni ran the Design Sprint at the ICE’s London headquarters. A morning symposium organised by the ICE raised the following topics:
- Trade vs, aid, charity vs. social justice, not for profit vs commercial work
- Staff retention in the humanitarian sector
- Economic empowerment and seeing engineer’s contribution as more that just creating assets but also creating livelihoods and managing complexity
- Duty of care and the risk of double standards for engineering safety in design and onsite here vs. in humanitarian settings
- Temporary vs transitionary (20yr) infrastructure design
- Potential application of software and technology
- Identifying levers and ways of working that enable delivery at scale and to rapid programmes
- Management of complex systems and balancing of multi-stakeholder needs and the difficulties in measuring competence).
This was followed by the design sprint. The Happold Foundation brought together 30 people with experience in humanitarian and international development to share ideas. The group divided into teams and worked together over the course of the afternoon to form and develop ideas that evolved into the following themes during the course of the sprint:
- Needs assessment online forum – Unity Change theme – benefiting numerous actors – an online forum for the international community to share tools and methods of assessing local community needs. Different from Rapid Assessment Tools in that it would delve into the socio-cultural sensitivities of what is truly needed locally instead of finding a quick fix. It would try to unify and internationalise the assessment procedures, communication and measurement of needs which are currently based on lots of different tools and guidance. It could also be used to measure successful meeting of needs post project completion.
- Negate the need for NGOs – Local decision making change theme – benefitting local communities and small businesses – A business case support programme that enables local communities to identify a need for a project and lean on a network of engineers to help them develop that idea into a business case. The business case would then be submitted to a funding body and if approved would be resourced with engineers and other experts from different international rosters.
- 2year career change programme for engineers – Collaboration and diversification of resources change theme – benefitting civil engineers interested in gaining experience in international development – a paid training programme within an organization such as DFID that would over two years equip already experienced Civil Engineers with the experience and additional skills required to work in the humanitarian or international development sectors. Could maybe even include the receipt of a certification upon completion.
- Detailed design to completion programme – Local capacity building, collaboration and use of technology change themes – benefitting local engineers – Local and international engineering teams would partner up in delivering a design project from design to completion together and in so doing would transfer valuable design knowledge.
- Engineering jury service for very experienced engineers – Knowledge sharing and effective working change themes – benefitting younger engineers and industry as a whole by recording lessons learnt – a near obligatory mentor system where senior members of the industry are required (as part of their progression towards accreditations e.g. Fellows / other senior roles) to spend a certain amount of time passing on and recording their knowledge and lessons learnt in a format that can be used by others. Could apply to any part of engineering, or more specifically in this case to engineers with international development experience passing on the knowledge to other engineers or actors.
- Best practice for local governments in infrastructure – Knowledge sharing and effective working change themes – benefitting local governments – Translate international best practice knowledge into a visual less technical format that can be used by local governments to inform decision making and project prioritisation and management. This would aim to leverage existing teaching platforms, but would be different in its focus on infrastructure and targeting of local governments.
Interestingly, although all propositions focused on knowledge sharing and management they did seem to focus on different stages of a “knowledge management cycle” from project inception through to implementation and post-completion measurement of project success. I will need to review the notes and get input from the various team members before I can provide a more detailed summary of each proposition.
We will now work with a representative from each of the teams to develop these themes further and feed them back to the ICE.
Photo by: DFID Burma, 2012: Emergency food, drink and shelter to help people displaced in Rakhine State, Western Burma
Many thanks to the many people who helped make this sprint such as success, in particular Anna Bruni, Foundation Alumni Lucy Sutcliff, Trustee Celia Way and Alumni Anna Rothnie for all of their hard work. We would also like to pass our thanks to the BuroHappold London Graphics team who designed the invaluable briefing pack.