The challenges facing many small nonprofit organizations are increasing at a greater rate than the internal capacities of many within this sector are able to address effectively. This situation has small nonprofits questioning their sustainability and ability to deliver their services in the long term. Often these small nonprofit organizations are working within a business model and communications paradigm that has remained unchanged for decades and one which is proving no longer effective in attracting awareness, engagement, and support. Many of these organizations are facing a critical failure requiring significant business model innovation to achieve both their short-, mid- and long-term goals. Design thinking is an avenue for nonprofits to achieve business model innovation by developing new, unique concepts supporting an organization’s viability and the processes for bringing those concepts to fruition. This case study outlines the design thinking process applied to business model innovation for a small, 22-year old, nonprofit approaching critical business failure.
Case studies are discussed, from Northumbria University’s practice-led Centre for Design Research (CfDR) that demonstrate how visualising concepts and designs through digital animation can enable effective communication of ideas and interactions, which in turn enables creative leaps in thinking, understanding and decision-making. Animation is a tool that can unlock the comprehension into what is and what could be. This paper reflects on a number of collaborative projects between the CfDR and several scientific communities, demonstrating and focusing in particular on the process of visualisation, designing digital animations to communicate complex processes, ideas and interactions. An approach and understanding has been developed about how to effectively communicate potentially complex, scientific and technical concepts for the benefit of the client and the end user, in particular the lay audience whose knowledge of the subject may be limited or non-existing.
Findings indicate that the process of constructing simple digital animated stories becomes a learning process for both designer and client. Critical discussions during collaborative meetings develop shared understandings: helping clients to think more creatively about communication (appreciating the benefits of manipulating a truth to position to waylay contextual confusion), and making implicit knowledge belonging to the client explicit to the designer. It is important to state that this negotiation is more effective when the designer is a layperson with respect to the complex implicit knowledge of the client. During these collaborative conditions the untangling of complex ideas have achieve the a-ha moments in the animations’ audiences.
Despite the increased popularity of online tools for remote teamwork and meetings, moderated collaborative activities between multiple users in early conceptual design stages, such as brainstorming sessions, are yet not well supported. In this paper, we introduce All4One, a networked system that enables multiple remote users to participate in a moderated visual sketching session. Each participant can independently draw and share sketches using a tablet, and a moderator uses a set of tangible tools to arrange and manipulate sketches that are displayed in real-time on a whiteboard. We present our prototype in detail and the results from a workshop study simulating a brainstorming session with designers who tested the system in practice. Results show several usage patterns and the potential of All4One for use in early design stages, and the importance of the role of the moderator as the facilitator of the design process. The paper concludes by identifying weaknesses and strengths of the current system and possible directions for future work.