Design Role: Enabling: an introduction…

Enabling is a set of design activities aiming at developing the capacity and ability of project participants to actively participate in the process and in implementing the solution (co-creation). In some cases physical toolkits or digital platforms are developed to help participants to map and visualise existing promising initiatives to be included in the framework programme, in this way amplifying the exploratory capacity of the initial design team (see crowdsourcing). In other examples enabling activities consist mainly in knowledge transfer and sharing sessions among various stakeholders; these processes can be provided as capacity building exercises (see training on Film making in DOTT07) or developed as more mutual learning processes to visualise knowledge which is relevant for potential project collaborations. Finally enabling kits are also developed as a way to support people to further implement and test the solution once ideated, acting as prototypes or real social platforms.

Tentative guidelines:
• Transfer the skills and tools used for the launch phases of the framework/local projects to all the stakeholders involved so that they will be able to carry on the development process autonomously…
• Develop collaborative approaches into collective learning, knowledge transfer and capacity building to enhance diffused skilled to take action…
• Provide all possible useful supports in an accessible, integrated and ready to use form (toolkit, platform…) to facilitate appropriation and usability…

Detailed analysis:
A platform to amplify change processes
What are the main characteristics/aspects/dimensions of the activity?
Considering the scale of intervention of Framework Programmes, enabling activities have generally the aim to amplify its research, collaboration and implementation capacity, therefore also increasing its potential legacy. When projects use design schools as main actors for change, design and investigation toolkits are developed to enable students to conduct the research activities and to create comparable outcomes.
As an example in Amplify, Parsons’ students under the supervision of the design firm IDEO are currently designing a series of toolkits aiming at disseminating examples of collaborative services in the Lower East Side. The toolkits will be available for download at the project website and should encourage individuals, local non-profits and policy-makers in the adoption of solutions that promote sustainable lifestyles in the Lower East Side.
Enable activities can also be oriented toward creating the capacity and skills of project participants to become active co-designers. In this case designers might organise training sessions, visualise research outcomes or engage in knowledge sharing conversations.
In Feeding Milano for example the research team built visualizations aiming to enable stakeholders to participate to the design process. Also to enhance their capacity and attitude towards envisioning solutions as useful tool in design collaborations. In DOTT07 a design studio, Thinkpublic, organised a skills share day on video making with BBC for project participants, this to enable them to generate video interviews to be elaborated in a film for the design team.
Finally enabling activities can be oriented toward providing the platforms and tools for people to implement the ideas and start collaborating in new ways. In Feeding Milano and NeWu this translated into a series of digital services that worked as a connecting system through all the Framework Programme. In other examples they can be small prototypes, like a paper lift-share toolkit in Move Me project in DOTT07, that the communities can adopt and adapt to their needs and shape their activities.

Create, Test and Diffuse
- How to start/develop/disseminate it?
Enabling activities and toolkits can be designed by a group of design teachers or professionals as the project progresses. In general toolkits are actually designed and improved after some initial testing phase. For example in Nord-pas-de-Calais Sustainable Periurban a toolkit for participants in the Territoires ed Résidence was progressively developed through an iterative learning process capitalising on the experiences of the first 5 residences. The toolkit was then presented as a Resident Guide based on a series of pages posted online for a shared use and upgrade between all the participants to the Territoires en Résidences programme. Hard copies in forms of a booklet or separate deck of cards to facilitate personalisation of the methodology were given to each new resident teams. The Resident Guide was based on 3 sections: a general overview of a residence defining the approach and main features; a chronological narration of a typical residences process; a toolbox with compulsory tools, favourite and other ones.
This iterative and refining process is also evident in the Amplify research with the support of a design company IDEO. Also Thinkpublic within DOTT07 formalised their engagement process, developing toolkits and process mapping for NHS to be implemented and diffused as innovation processes.
In other cases the enabling capability is demonstrated mainly in the capacity of design teams to adapt their tools and language depending on the kind of audience and participants. Enabling is also not only a matter of providing knowledge and tools, but also create spaces and occasions for people to share their experiences, resources and needs. This is an ongoing learning process that should be better formalised for designers to learn the right skills and approaches to enhance these kinds of conversations.

Wider and Lasting Legacy and People Empowerment
- What are the expected results/outputs/benefits?
Enabling activities are generally developed to enhance participation, amplify research capacities and create a wide and lasting legacy in the territory. This requires the capacity to adapt tools to the ability of project participants, to verify that they are meaningful and to constantly refine their effectiveness. When projects work ideas and innovation approaches last beyond the initiative. In some cases this is reflected in a wider adoption of the tools to replicate similar change initiatives (see the toolkits of Nord-pas-de-Calais Sustainable Periurban or Ampify) or by the transfer of skills in working environments (see DOTT07 Alzheimer project) or by the adoption of digital services or prototypes to implement the solutions.

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