This paper aims to understand how non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can use design thinking (DT) as a strategic tool to improve organisational and societal outcomes.
The paper applies a case study design. Building on in-depth interviews with senior management, beneficiaries (villagers), the village headman and children in Karaliya village (Rajasthan), as also from secondary sources, the paper presents a model of using DT for NGOs.
This paper presents evidence of how Jal Bhagirathi Foundation, an Indian NGO working in the most water-distressed and densely populated arid zone of the Thar Desert, used a user-centric, DT approach to solve the water-scarcity problem in villages in the Marwar region. In doing so, several interconnected societal problems were also addressed, including those of sanitation, education – especially of the girl child – poverty and migration.
DT has been increasingly used by “for-profit” business organisations to derive competitive advantage. NGOs have lagged in the use of DT as a strategic tool to drive enhanced organisational and societal outcomes. Such NGOs can strategise to adopt a DT approach.
A literature search revealed that while the term “NGO” threw up 36,571 results, “NGOs and strategic management” had only 363 results, and “the use of design thinking in NGOs” had 0 results. This paper contributes to the limited research in the field of strategic management in the NGO space by looking at DT as an important strategic tool for NGOs.
Jayakumar, T., Das, K. and Srivastava, N. (2019), "Design thinking: a working strategy for the third sector", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 40 No. 5, pp. 28-38. https://doi.org/10.1108/JBS-11-2018-0195
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