This document summarises the main approaches and methods developed over several years through teaching and supporting managers and entrepreneurs. It provides an introduction and manual for those looking for a new way to tackle social and policy issues, such as caring for the elderly or reducing worklessness among young people.

What we call this, whether it is “social design”, “service design”, or “human centred design”isn’t that important; the approach and methods are. But, if you want a definition of social design, the one we offer is this: A practical learning journey taken by people including managers and entrepreneurs, to create useful, usable and meaningful ventures, services and products that combine resources efficiently and effectively, to work towards achieving desired outcomes and impacts on society in ways that are open to contestation and dialogue.

This approach starts with spending time understanding people’s experiences and resources on their own terms, taking methodical steps to analyse and address these with their active participation, and pushing for more effective cross-team and cross-organisational working. With this services can become more valuable to customers and users, easier to use, with fewer resources wasted on implementing the right ideas in the wrong way (or on the wrong ideas entirely).

This Social Design Methods Menu cannot take you all the way through this process, but it focuses on the difficult early phases when uncertainty is high.

Methods & Measurement

Posted on: 30 January 2013 Authors: Joe Julier, Lucy Kimbell,


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