Global Communications Insights Research + Design
Ashoka, Innovators for the Public
Washington DC, London



Adapted Ethnography & Design Research

As part of the re-design process, we conducted research across Ashoka’s 30+ country offices to understand our global operational & user needs. Simultaneously, the global office was trying to understand how we could improve Ashoka’s shared services to optimize cross-team collaboration (“synapsing”) and media/design/communications.


3,300 Ashoka Fellows in 88 Countries
260 Changemakers Schools in 28 Countries  
429 Global Staff (aggregated Salesforce, Netsuite)
28 Facebook pages, 23 Twitter Accounts
80+ Websites
Issue/ Team Sites: Changemakers, Citizen Base, Citizen Sector, Community Greens, Dream Do It, Design Labs, Empathy, Globalizer, Hub, Mommy Movement, Social Impact Market, Tech 4 Society, University Network, Youth Venture
Country Office Sites: Africa (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, West Africa), Asia (India, Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand), Europe (Austria, Czech, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Uk), Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Southern Core, Venezuela), Middle East & North Africa, North America (Canada, U.S.)

Basic survey of the social innovation & entrepreneurship field across foundations & scholarships for innovation / entrepreneurship, competitions for funding social enterprise, media & storytelling and network building.

Spain, UK, Ireland, Mexico, Venezuela, Greece, Chile, Germany, Brazil, India, DC
Maira Cabrini, Communications (Spain); Pauline Verhaeghe, Media & Communications (UK); Felicity McLean, Communications & Framechange (UK); Mark Cheng, Framechange (UK, EU Lead); Fiona Koch, Communication (Ireland), Georgina Aldana, Communications & Fellowship (Mexico); Nadia Gonzalez, Fellowship Coordination (Venezuela); Aphrodite Bouikids (Greece); Barabara Nagel, Communications & Fellowship (Chile); Michael Vollmann, Globalizer (Germany); Christiane Benvenuto Andrade, Global Leadership Latin America Youth Years (Latin America); Vishnu Swaminanthan, Director (India); Anne Evans, Strategic Resources (Washington DC); Laxmi Parthasarathy, Framechange (Washington DC); Maggie Lemere, Global Communications (Washington DC); Valeria Budinich, Walls No More (Washington DC); Tina Choi, Global Communications (Eu)


Outlining core design question, Constraints & Challenges, design solutions, Re-design focus / KPIs / Goals / Data Systems / Creative Brief, Core User Scenarios/Journeys, Navigation, Mock-Ups, Research Overview (Interviews), Timelines & Team Planning

SWOT (Strengths Opportunities Weakness Threats) Analysis 
Cross analyzing team’s SWOTs. Ex Ashoka’s Fellowship program remains it’s strength. It’s ambition to diversify programs to focus on the patterns within the fellow’s work across sectors has caused weaknesses in fundraising clarity and internal team retention. Opportunities however have emerged for tipping Ashoka’s work on Empathy in Youth and a diamond level synapse model for connecting the teams.


Ashoka Global Insights Fuller Inspiration

Design Element Social Systems as Constructed & Maleable 
Ashoka’s Mission : “Everyone a Changemaker” is fundamentally about constructing new social systems and infrastructure. Inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller, the visual trope of two hands shaping, playing with, and or building became the core design element of the presentation to visually remind of our mission that everyone can make change and think about life and social systems as constructed.

MockUp_SocialChangeVisual Theme Revolution & Historicism
Ashoka’s founder, Bill Drayton, grew up in New York in the 1950s and 1960s and was deeply inspired by Martin Luther King and the organizers of the Civil Rights movement as well as Ghandi and the strategies of India’s Liberation Movement. Ashoka’s fellows have a unique weight as revolutionaries. This connection between everyday people, social revolutions and real social change is important to Ashoka’s work and impact at scale. Ashoka Fellow, Kailash Satyarthi, for example, was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Malala Yousafzai, for his work in child rights. The strategies and insights of Ashoka’s fellows are global resources that should be modeled, like the revolutionaries who have come before us.


Design Objective Skimmable, Accessible Insights for Larger Usability
The main design objective for the insights points were skimmability and memorability with the main take aways as bold and easy, and space for supporting explanations. Everyone, whether Ashoka seasoned staff, new interns, partners, etc…struggles to understand and succinctly summarize Ashoka’s work, which has spanned 30+ years and 40+ years. This lack of cohesion is due to the unique structure and theory of change to Bill Drayton’s organizational design vision. Ashoka’s success is partly due to being a super team of entrepreneurs, constantly experimenting, building new teams and dissolving topical team focuses. After Ashoka’s success with catalyzing sweeping change through the fellowship program, Bill Drayton began what he called Venture Collaborative Entrepreneurship teams to hack the collective power of the fellows within industries, like Housing, Health, Law, Financial Access, Empathy, Youth Development. Each team had a mandate to develop a tipping strategy for the industry, specific to the issues of each sector which promulgated a spread of sub teams with different foci, stages of development, and geographical focus, in addition to the fellowship program.

Design Objective Summarizing Ashoka for Quick Uptake
As part of my work delineating the structure, navigation and content for a re-design project of, the most consistent challenge I heard from teams and global staff was the redundancy and amount of time needed in explaining Ashoka’s work…to donors, partners, new team members, journalists, potential fellows..everyone. Thus. the Global Communications Insights pack does not just focus on the insights of the unique structures of Ashoka to optimize how we use design, media and communication, but the first chapter of the insights is a brief and succinct explanation of the development, mission and focus of Ashoka to reduce team time wasted on understanding and communicating Ashoka’s mission/work.



ON Creating a Global Media Directory

1st Design Solution Based on Global Communications Needs Research : Stop Re-Inventing the Wheel . Collaborate

Problem: Everyone is Re-Inventing the wheel creating resource inefficiency and disparate global content.
Many Local Ashoka offices waste incredible amounts of resources (time,money, energy) on explaining Ashoka’s work in their specific cultural region and language. Often programs vary by each office, but there is a core mission and vision which all 30+ Ashoka global offices need to explain to onboard fundraising, new staff, Ashoka universities, fellows , etc.
Solution: Global Brand Materials ?

Problem: Global Brand Guides have been unsuccessful.
Many systems and global brand guides have failed to be socialized and used in the past by offices and programs in different regions. We identified that one of the causes of this massive inefficiency was baseline lack of knowing who else globally works on similar programs and problems. Circulate and share a basic directory of who is even doing media in which Ashoka offices, along with their specialty, cultural region, and language.

Problem: Staff directories /database/ ‘knowing who is doing what’ have been unsuccessful.
Much of the media requirements by local offices, web translation work for example or social media content writing, is done by interns or multi-tasking full time staff. So there are drastic fluctuations in who is doing what Media when.

Basic Iterative Solution Step : Basic GSlides Media Directory
Work together to get to know who is doing what and put it in a google slides that can be accessed globally, translated, copied and changed. No printed pamphlet or Indesign File that will be unable to be opened or circulated in 30+ different tech environments. Just a simple directory which can be searched through commandF style and easily duplicated to localize with your own team etc. or comments made in if the status of the employee changed.

Meditations on Human Ecological Diversity & Form


Design Thinking User Flows & Content Algorithms