Faiā's Approach: Community Centred Design

Updated: Sep 22, 2019

Sagar Tandon, Head of Innovation, shares his thoughts on a new perspective discovered while working with both the founder of, and clients at, Faiā: Community-Centred Design (CCD).

I was planning to write about this topic for quite some time. So, here I am. In previous avatars as an intrapreneur, impact investor, and consultant, I used various frameworks such as rapid prototyping, design thinking, system thinking, and human-centered design. The first course I ever did, apart from core engineering, was “Design Thinking for innovations” by Jeanne M. Liedtka.

But someone like me, who tries to have a holistic approach to life, always felt like there was a gap in said approaches, especially when compared with things like interconnectedness philosophy (Gaia). I see this through a lens of intersecting humans, animals, and nature, as described by Zoe Weil, founder of the Institute of Humane Education.

In my last stint with Gray Matters Capital, an impact investment firm, I worked with Smita Sircar, Director of Innovations. We not only kickstarted an ed-tech focused fund (edLABS), but also ecosystem development work where various stakeholders in the education sector could come together and help the ecosystem mature. It was a perfect example of leveraging systems-design to solve problems in the Indian education sector.

George, the founder of Faiā, ignited/reignited my thoughts on community, movements, tribes, systems, and culture. He got me hooked on the power of community. In mid-2019, I joined him as Head of Innovations at Faiā to streamline ideas into action by simplifying various pieces of Faiā’s offerings. Faiā helps solve complex business problems by looking through a lens of community. At a deeper level, Faiā helps businesses and individuals unleash their full potential by leveraging community or technology. While having back and forth discussions on community, and solving issues for our clients, the concept of "Community-Centered Design" was birthed. I hope this article can kickstart the term and create further dialog.

What is Community Centred Design (CCD)?

Community-Centered Design (CCD) derives inspiration from wolf packs (from which our founder, George, has a huge affinity for) and Human-Centered Design (HCD). It extrapolates the community component and incorporates a systems-engineering approach. To get a true understanding of this, especially since George is so inspired by wolf packs, see the below video:

In CCD, the community is at the center of designing solutions, which helps to have a more “holistic” approach and not just individualistic. As may be known, too much focus on individualism can have unhealthy consequences on existing social structures, damage culture or even hamper community dynamics. Wolves teach a fine balance between the healthy expression of individuality and commitment to the wider pack (community).

Faiā believes in supporting communities in a manner whereby each individual action is felt by the community in a positive (or sometimes even negative) way by leveraging emerging technologies (such as Bitcoin). This feeling component is important as the world becomes increasingly digital.

Faiā’s 3 core principles for the CCD Framework include → →

1. Technology Harmonisation – integrating tech for the community, not just for the individual

2. Holistic System Thinking – looking at the overall system and ecosystem holistically. Nothing we create exists in isolation; it all lives within the overall natural system

3. Bridging Extremities - this is a big part of the Faiā philosophy, which is all about identifying extremes and bringing them into an equilibrium where it makes sense. This does not disregard the fact, however, that extremes can also play a vital role in evolving communities.

Through our new CCD framework, we offer a compelling alternative to designing solutions to business problems by helping them look beyond one consumer or employee. We look at the whole system and their inter-relational context by leveraging powerful emerging technologies (like Bitcoin).

Right now we are in the midst of fine-tuning our methodologies and tools while practicing community-centered-design for our clients. We will be talking a lot more about CCD and its related subject areas in the months to come, from our “It Will Come” podcasts to our blogs and newsletters.

What do you think of the Community-Centred Design (CCD) concept? Feel free to share your thoughts below. Alternatively, you can write to me directly at sagar@faiacorp.com.