HCD is a way of thinking that places the people you’re trying to serve and other important stakeholders at the center of the design, innovation and implementation process. Our approach to HCD is iterative, measurable and results driven. We focus on understanding dynamics between stakeholders across the ecosystem. We work with stakeholders – whether end users or service providers – to create solutions and strategies that overcome challenges and develop opportunities to create value and impact.

Human Centered Design


The best way to understand people is by meeting them where they’re at. We encourage leaving your desk and immersing yourself in the lived experiences and context of those you seek to understand and engage in the design process, whether that is at a factory, on a farm, or in a person’s home.


Social impact is about people, and people are dynamic. Their experiences, perspectives, and behaviors are shaped by their social, economic and cultural context. Understanding people in a nuanced manner leads to better and more impactful design, regardless of what we’re creating together.


We work with – not for – communities to co-design and test solutions through iterative prototyping. We prototype everything – from products and services, to programs, policies, partnerships and strategies for impact.

When you let people participate in the design process, you find that they often have ingenious ideas about what would really help them. And it’s not a one time thing; it’s an iterative process.

Melinda Gates



Service design helps maintain a cohesive picture of various touch-points with users and stakeholders so they can better coordinate their activities to deliver value on a consistent basis over time.


Creative and collaborative methods help engage stakeholders and users, map out new opportunity spaces and align around new agendas, ideas and strategies.


System mapping helps visualize dynamic systems that reflect a common understanding of key stakeholders, relationships and feedback loops. This is critical in identifying leverage points and opportunities for collaboration.


We use on-site research methods that involve observations and deep-dive interviews, taking place in the contexts and locations in which users (and other stakeholders) live, work and interact.


Rapid prototyping accelerates the process for testing assumptions and iterating new product, program or delivery models. It removes risk and increases certainty by engaging users and stakeholders early and often.


Pilot testing and implementation validates propositions and lowers the risk of failure for a proposed solution. Supported by the right business strategy and incentive models, pilots are an ideal way to measure business impact through small-scale experimentation.


We incorporate behavioral science techniques into our HCD and prototyping approach to generate behavioral hypotheses and rigorously test ideas through experiments.


We leverage big data analytics to complement qualitative research with statistically rigorous insights from market research, surveys and separate data sets, to inform segmentation, business cases and go-to-market strategies.


We work closely with technology development partners to implement our solutions, using rapid sprint cycles centered on user stories closely tied to our HCD research insights.

The easy and the simple are not identical. To discover what is really simple and to act upon the discovery is an exceedingly difficult task. After the artificial and complex is once institutionally established and ingrained in custom and routine, it is easier to walk in the paths that have been beaten than it is, after taking a new point of view, to work out what is practically involved in the new point of view

John Dewey, Experience and Education

We’ve developed toolkits for remote research and design, remote creative facilitation and integrating HCD with behavioral science. Download our primers here:


Dalberg Design combines skills drawn from top-tier design and innovation consultancies with the robust business analysis and strategic planning capabilities of Dalberg to support a unique set of integrated offerings for our clients. These include:


Frequently, organizations go to considerable expense and effort to bring together diverse stakeholders, only to make poor use of their time, missing the opportunity to generate new perspectives and approaches in an active and collaborative manner. We are fully acclimated to working across disciplines to drive alignment toward shared visions and breakthrough thinking, whether for small convenings of 5-10 people or large sessions with more than 200 participants. 


We have seen too many organizations get stuck in long program planning cycles and then invest valuable resources in expensive pilots without taking the simple step to rapidly prototype and test their assumptions early-on. We specialize in using agile techniques to rapidly and iteratively test and prototype a range of behavior change, incentive and service delivery models. Our approach leverages key techniques from social science and participatory design to ensure that the results are structured and rigorous.


Social impact generally requires influencing multiple dimensions of a fragmented ecosystem. Key elements of service delivery are often neglected or compromised because planners did not take a coordinated or holistic view. Our teams leverage user insights to create an integrated picture of needs and opportunities across the entire user journey. We then rapidly prototype and test programmatic solutions to validate their market fit, inform an MVP and roadmap, as well as generate impact data.

Innovation strategy-HCD page

Many of our clients have experimented with a range of different design and innovation methodologies, but encountered significant hurdles when they tried to integrate and sustain these approaches within their organizations. We see it as our responsibility to ensure that our clients get maximum value out of the resources they invest with us with a hands-on approach to drive learning through active engagement. We regularly develop toolkits and curricula to help our clients continuously learn and innovate.


We are the only design group embedded in an advisory firm focused purely on social impact. We collaborate extensively with each part of the Dalberg Group. 80% of our work is integrated with other Dalberg capabilities, from strategy to market research to data analytics to measurement and evaluation.

This integrated approach helps ensure our ideas and solutions are truly viable, feasible, sustainable and actionable.

Dalberg Design is the design and innovation practice at Dalberg. Follow us on twitter @DalbergDesign. For further information feel free to reach out to us. thanks!

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