We always start projects by asking lots of questions. Here are some good ones that are often asked of us!
What kinds of organizations do you partner with?
In general, Greater Good Studio works with nonprofits, foundations, government agencies and social enterprises. More specifically, we seek out clients who serve an underserved or marginalized population, have the capacity to execute programmatic or organizational change, and want to learn more about human-centered design, their own organization and the people they serve.
What kinds of projects do you do?
We work on tough challenges of behavior change. Each of our case studies is framed this way: “I want (end user) to (new behavior).” Articulating who you’re hoping to impact and how you’d like their life or actions to be different is the first step. And if you don’t have the answers yet, we can help you figure that out!
We often begin relationships by working together to frame the right challenge. For example, rather than saying, “I want to expand my program’s reach” we might say, “I want young women across the country to access our services.” We don’t start with the problem or the solution. We start with the ideal end state.
What do you design?
Simply put, we design solutions. Those solutions are usually programs or services, but each may contain many elements.
For example, we designed a new food serving system for a school cafeteria. That service included new products (bowls, trays and carts), processes (ordered steps for prepping, serving and cleaning up) and roles (lunchroom attendants became more student-facing).
Here’s a non-exhaustive, alphabetical list of things we have designed: apps, assessments, brochures, cards, clothing, communications, conferences, contracts, curricula, events, field trips, games, infographics, jobs, maps, meetings, mobile apps, physical products, posters, processes, protocols, research methods, retreats, roles, software, spaces, strategies, training, websites, worksheets and workshops.
How is that possible with such a small team?
It helps that our team is brilliant! But, more importantly, they have diverse experience across many different fields—product, graphic, service and space design. This means we have the skills to tackle ambitious and ambiguous projects that cross disciplines. As projects get more defined, we often call upon specialists in a particular discipline to help us execute.
After we finish a project with Greater Good Studio, what do we end up with?
Our goal is impact. And to get to impact, you need implementation. While the exact materials will differ based on the project, we’re always working to give you artifacts you can use throughout the project. For example, a digital design project might end with the final screen designs, wireframes and style guide developers need to start building. A service design project might end with a blueprint of intended steps and actors, plus a guidebook and a trained team that’s ready to pilot. We’ll do whatever we can to help you implement our solutions, aiming to finish the project where our strengths end and yours begin.
How long are your projects, and how much does one cost?
It depends! The best way we scope a project is to work backwards from your goals. Then we can use our data from past projects to estimate time and cost. Cost is always determined by the number of anticipated hours multiplied by team members’ billable rates, so there are no secret fees.
Can you help us find funding?
We know most organizations don’t have design budgets and most funders don’t give grants for human-centered design (though this is starting to change!) That’s why we’re happy to support your efforts to find funding. We’ve done this in many ways, including co-writing grant proposals, creating project presentations and joining meetings with funders. If you have a project in mind, but aren’t sure if you have the funding to work with us, let’s schedule a meeting to chat about possible steps forward. Contact us.
Who would work on my project?
The first answer is you! Our work is collaborative, and we can’t be successful without your domain expertise and network of relationships. Read more about working with us.
Within GGS, every engagement has a team lead who is responsible for project management and deliverables, to be assigned based on the skills needed. That person is backed by a team consisting of at least one researcher and one designer. Larger projects might have a team of five while smaller projects might have a team of three.
My organization is new to human-centered design. Can you explain what it’s all about?
We would love to! Here are the basics. If you want to learn more, we also offer coaching and training.
I am interested in Greater Good Studio’s work, but I don't know if my organization is ready for a project. Can we talk about potential projects?
Of course! It’s not unheard of for us to hang out with clients for a full year before they are ready to embark on a human-centered design journey. We also conduct framing workshops to help teams align on the right challenge to tackle. Let’s be friends.
Are you a nonprofit?
We are a social enterprise, which is a for-profit, mission-based business. This decision is partly to reduce complexity in our operations, and partly to demonstrate to the design industry that it’s possible to do amazing, meaningful work at your day job, instead of saving your social impact for pro-bono and after-hours work.
Who are your competitors?
If you’re looking for other design firms that focus on social impact, we encourage you to check out our Pinterest board, Design & Social Impact. We want to see this field grow, so we’re happy to welcome and support any “competitors” that come along. That’s also why we participate in conferences and meet-ups and contribute to publications (like these: 1, 2, 3). When more designers apply their skills and experience to our most pressing social issues, everybody wins.