Nothing for me without me – masterclasses in Georgia on designing proposals to address digital vulnerability
By Kristina Mänd
Have you considered digital vulnerability when planning a service or a project? Do you know how to design a good solution? Are you thinking creatively, flexibly and experimentally? In Tbilisi, 14 teams of civil society organisations and public authorities are designing action proposals to address the challenges digitally vulnerable citizens are encountering in Georgia. One of these proposals will receive 20,000 euros for implementation.
October 4-7, two 1.5-day masterclasses with 7 teams each provide an introduction to a project/service/initiative/policy idea design and the theory behind the methodology. The framework is based on learning-by-doing which means that each participating team will use the tools and methods during the masterclass to work on their team challenges.
During this 1.5 day masterclass, the participants will be putting themselves in the shoes and minds of different stakeholders, identifying the main user groups and end-users, and identifying potential root-causes of their challenges. As Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”
The participants of the first masterclass said that the coolest thing they learned was “understanding the design thinking system and internal connections”. It is important to be creative and “try and see the world from your beneficiaries perspective” – although logical, we often forget that. “Doing observation and research and thinking more of what is a problem before actually seeking for solutions” was the key commitment that many teams made as a result of the masterclass.
“One of the coolest masterclasses!” and “Thank you for making us think hard and conceptualize fast!” were the most heart-warming feedback for the organizing team of eGA, IDFI and Margus Klaar. And as one participant wrote “This masterclass was epic”. How come? As the title said, we did the masterclass not for but with the participants to work with the beneficiaries to reduce, minimize or prevent digital vulnerability as these barriers prevent the people from reaping the benefits of digital transformation and as such, have a negative impact on their rights, interests, and everyday life.
Why are we focusing on digitally vulnerable groups?
The masterclasses are part of the DRIVE: Digital Research and Impact for Vulnerable E-citizens project that aims for public authorities and civil society organisations to be aware of the digitally vulnerable groups and their needs, and have improved skills to engage people and prevent the digital divide (further).
In the DRIVE context, we define Digitally Vulnerable Groups as those whose digital engagement in political decision-making and e-services is hindered by their lack of awareness of digital issues, access to technological benefits, and/or digital literacy and skills.
Although the masterclass itself is limited in time, the tools and methods can immediately be applied in real-world contexts, used as a foundation for developing and delivering solutions to real people. Moreover, these new skills, tools and methods can be used for any other service, project, initiative, policy idea or task the folks are dealing with in the future.
The masterclasses are organised by the e-Governance Academy together with the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information in Georgia (www.idfi.ge), and led by Margus Klaar from Brand Manual. Margus has 30 years strategic marketing experience and more than ten just focusing on service design with CSOs, businesses and public institutions. He’s a frequent speaker at business and service design conferences, author of numerous articles and books on service design including “How to have your cake and eat it too” (https://thebrandmanual.com/people/j-margus-klaar/.
The content of the masterclasses is based the recommendations from the report on digitally vulnerable groups in Georgia (https://ega.ee/publication/digitally-vulnerable-groups-georgia/) that was done in January 2022. The DRIVE project is supported by a grant from Luminate.