The influence of design thinking tools on NGO accountability
Keywords:Accountability, NGOs, Design Thinking, HCD, Personas, Journey Maps
There is continued criticism regarding the over-reliance on donor-centred accountability mechanisms in aid projects. Conversely, there is increasing interest in Design Thinking as an approach to support greater beneficiary-centred accountability. Accountability can be conceptualised as ‘felt’ virtue which privileges internal motivations of decision-makers; and as ‘imposed’ mechanism which privileges externally enforced structures on decision-makers. However, there is limited understanding about whether Design Thinking tools can influence the accountability of decision-makers. This participatory action research study utilised semi-structured interviews and observations. The analysis revealed decision-makers perceived two tools, being Personas and Journey Maps, as having influenced their ‘felt’ accountability. Suggestions on how the tools may be contributing to the ‘felt’ accountability of decision-makers include: building a shared picture among diverse groups, humanising complex information, grounding discussions in realities, and deepening empathy. This study contributes to extant literature by showing that Design Thinking can enhance, decision-makers’ ‘felt’ accountability through new sense-making practices and tools.