The Fabric of Social Seva

Project collaborators: Alisha Nisar, Bhaskarjyoti Das, Ramanuj Nanhoriya and Prof. Praveen Nahar, NID Ahmedabad, India

Project Summary: Click here to download

In our last assignment under the module of system design, a part of the course of Masters of Design in Product Design, we evaluated the concepts of design intervention for creating a fertile-for-innovation ecosystem that celebrates the act of doing-things-together and develop the quality of interaction among all stakeholders.

The journey started with developing a complex mapping of the global and local wicked problems that existed in the current world and evaluating opportunities for design intervention. What intrigued us the most was the act of doing social service which, although existed in huge numbers, was still to make an effective action and keep up with the  exponential rise of population, rapid urbanization and overall demographic social change.

In India, there are around 31 lac NGOs, almost 1 for every 600 people for 1.2 billion people today. The population is exponentially growing with more people missing a good quality of life. This demands the social organizations and initiatives to be much more efficient and effective, and needs active collaborative effort from the country’s idea-rich growing population.

While studying the wicked problems prevalent in the society, we saw various levels of complex inter-dependencies and solving one aspect of the problem at a time gives rise to several others. Hence, solving such wicked problems require a system level approach rather than a linear one. One has to intervene into not just the problem but all its inter-dependencies simultaneously in order to find an effective solution that adds value to the society.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Systems thinking, as a design tool or methodology, put into action to understand the complexity of the inter-connected factors for social service can help us celebrate the inconsistencies of the problem and yet facilitate designing and devising processes to realize the vision of action.

Compiling and mapping some of the different design tools and approaches to understand the well woven fabric of social service, we started to look at the entire arena by zooming in and out. Following are few of the theoretical research mappings: (the subject of the map is highlighted on each image)

We simultaneously created a holistic and discreet understanding of the intent of the project and also evaluated the driving forces that projects a probable design intervention in the arena of social service.


The intent of the project had developed to the idea of transforming to a new civilization which understands the need of a quality interaction and the idea of creating and doing things together in a much more engaged and holistic manner which encompasses the need of empathy between stakeholders and understanding not on a point-to-point basis but also understanding the bigger picture with the points as leverage points of the entire designed or evolved system.


We reached out to several individuals, groups and NGOs working in the field of social service based in and around Ahmedabad and understood their layers of work, visions and ideologies, quality of interaction and empathy among the volunteers and participants of the social work.

We conducted several design workshops with the volunteers and workers of NGOs in order to assess the overall societal and social impact and co-create both efficient and effective ways of reaching their vision along with celebrating their own and unique ways of engaging in a social activity. These also helped us in understanding the problems discreetly and much more empathetically. We also realized that apart from putting across an analytical and logical perspective to co-research the leverage points and co-create ideas for change, it was important to understand and evaluate through subjective and individualistic perspectives.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We subsequently created several iterations to visualize the problems and generate tools to facilitate the design upgradation of actions and actions in systems for design disruption.

Compiling the entire study, we devised a connected systems giga-map to understand the global picture of the project as a whole:

Alisha-Ramanuj-Bhaskar_Social Seva_giga map.jpg
The Fabric of Social Seva

Simultaneously, we co-developed a workbook for facilitating and enhancing the act of social service and help humanitarians do a self-impact-assessment, using design tools specifically developed for this context. This document can be printed, shared and collaboratively used for realizing effectiveness along with efficiency.

The complete documentation of the project,

THE FABRIC OF SOCIAL SEVA  (Complete Documentation, Published on May 10, 2016)

Seems like you have reached the end of this post, kindly send me your comments, suggestions and collaborative proposals to design a better world, together.