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Casa Netural
Service Design; Social Innovation — 2020

Casa Netural is a Hub for Social Innovation, with a mission to revitalise the social and economic fabric of Southern Italy. As a designer and vice president of the organisation, I supported Casa Netural with service design, workshop facilitation, and community building skills. The tanglable outcomes of my work include:

1. Strategy for Casa Netural
2. Contribution to an application for an EU grant, for a project - Open School for Village Hosts, which was accepted and the project is now being realised.
3. A new community built around peer-to-peer learning - ‘English Tea Time Conversations’
4. Services that supported the community during the covid-19 lockdown, including grocery shopping for the vulnerable members, food donation system, online cooking courses, and online talks to share knowledge and skills. 
5. ‘Edible Plant Excursion' with a local guide, during which the locals experienced their region through different senses and started to reconnect with their natural surroundings
5. A design talk on ‘Design Thinking for Social Innovation’


Role  —  Service Designer

Skills used; Service Design, Systems Thinking, Design Thinking, Workshop Facilitation, Community Building, Holistic Thinking

The context

A third of Italian villages are at risk of depopulation and abandonment. To tackle the problem, social organisations are developing new ways of reconnecting the urban and rural realities, through projects that foster social innovation.

The challenge

In response to the COVID-19 circumstances, Casa Netural needed to develop a new strategy to continue fostering a positive impact among the local communities, and the revitalisation of the region.

Workshop Facilitation

To design and facilitate a strategy workshop, I have combined diverse methodologies, approaches and tools; design thinking, strategic design, systems thinking, workshop facilitation, behavioural science, value proposition, SWOT analysis. The workshop was tailored to a specific culture, location, technology, and post covid-19 lockdown circumstances. It was divided into 4 phases according to the Double Diamond model:

1. Discover (Research) — insight into the problem (diverging)

2. Define (Synthesis) — the area to focus upon (converging)

3. Develop (Ideation) — potential solutions (diverging)

4. Deliver (Implementation) — solutions that work (converging)

Warm up 

To warm the team up, we started off with some fun and engaging exercises. First, we co-created portraits of the team members. Each person drew for 3 minutes, and then the next one continued, adding more details to the portrait. Afterwards, we asked '3 mingle questions': "What would you do if you were invisible for one day?", "What/Who inspires you? "When was the last that you did something for the first time?". With lots of energy and curiosity, we were ready to move to the more challenging part of the day. 

1. Discover/Research

Insight into the problem (diverging)

Casa Netural is a volunteer-driven organisation, which made it crucial to make sure that the new strategy allows the members to develop their skills, acquire new knowledge and expand their network. Therefore we mapped out both the already existing skills, and the ones that each member wanted to develop.

Applied methods

mission + vision

Applied methods

Asset mapping

By mapping out the technology + tools, human needs, as well as resources + services (those included people and expertise), the Casa Netural team gained a shared understanding of the context that the organisation operates in. This step served as a base for further systems mapping activities.

Applied methods


2. Define/Synthesis

The area to focus upon (converging)

Framing of the challenge, and synthesising the findings to create focus and shared direction through 'How Might We' questions. Once the HMWs were generated, we discussed and chose the one that best fitted best the vision, circumstances, had the biggest potential to be implemented, and the greatest impact on the community. 

Applied methods

Apple Drawing Ideation

After some hours of intense thinking, we needed a break and a method that would help us switch from the convergent way of thinking to the divergent one, as we were going to start the ideation phase. We applied a method created by Hyper Island called Apple-Drawing Ideation. "The purpose of this simple exercise is to demonstrate three key principles useful for creativity and idea generation: quantity is a condition for quality; building on the ideas of others; the ideas we come up with are usually all the same." - Hyper Island Tool Box. With one rule in mind, namely, to draw the apple in a way that hasn't been drawn yet, we quickly filled out the paper while having lots of fun.

3.  Develop/Ideation

Potential solutions (diverging)

We started the development and ideation phase from drawing 8 ideas connected to our How Might We question. Most of them needed some extra explanation, therefore we spent some time describing each of them to the team. Afterwards, we used a simple decision-making tool called 'Dot voting'. Since there is often a lot of discussion happening during a workshop, this method allowed us to take a break from talking, think in silence, and make the decisions a lot faster.

4. Deliver /Implementation

Solutions that work (converging)

The last method used during tha workshop is called 'Health Check'. That one helped the team evaluate the ideas in terms of community engagement, revitalisation of the region, sustainability, but also excitement that the team members felt about it. 

I continue to support Casa Netural in further developing and implementing the new strategy as a designer and vice president of the organisation.