Innovation in Action: User-centered Approach and Design Thinking

Innovation plays a vital role in today’s rapidly changing world. Organizations, both in the corporate and non-profit sectors, are increasingly recognizing the need to embrace innovation to stay ahead, drive growth, and tackle complex challenges. We had the opportunity to speak with Taonga Banda, the Innovation Manager at BongoHive Consult, to learn more about the Innovation Unit’s journey over the past years highlighting some of their significant projects.

Over the past five years, BongoHive Consult’s Innovation Unit has witnessed a significant evolution in its approach to working with NGOs and corporations.

Taonga explains, “There has been a shift towards corporate innovation due to the challenging circumstances that our country faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies were driven to find innovative ways to stay ahead despite the difficulties. However, we have also continued to work with NGOs and INGOs, as more organizations recognize the role that corporate innovation can play within their operations.”

When asked about successful collaborations, Taonga highlights some remarkable projects. “One of our notable collaborations in the NGO sector was the ‘Pachipanda‘ challenge we ran last year in partnership with WWF and the MTN Foundation. This challenge focused on sustainability, environmental protection, and climate issues. Pachipanda was a tremendous success and has even won multiple awards since its iteration last year.”

Taonga also mentions innovative projects with NGOs like the PEPFAR condom innovation challenge, which aimed to increase condom uptake among youths. “Some of the ideas generated from this challenge are being implemented by PEPFAR and its partners. Additionally, we worked with the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) on the Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Challenge (SRHR) to engage more young people in SRHR and improve access for them.”

In the corporate sector, The Innovation Unit within BongoHive Consult has run internal challenges and facilitated the adoption of design thinking methodologies. Taonga explains the impact of these initiatives, saying, “Through these engagements, we help organizations understand their context and problems better, generate innovative ideas, and adopt a user-centered approach to problem-solving. This not only enhances their ability to solve challenges effectively but also embeds a culture of innovation within their program design and implementation.”

Taonga emphasizes that their unique approach lies in consistently prioritizing the user in every aspect of their work. They place the user’s needs at the forefront, whether it’s designing programs, implementing initiatives, or creating tools and platforms. This customer-centric focus distinguishes them from other organizations operating in the same market.

When tailoring their services, BongoHive Consult strives to understand the client’s goals and desired outcomes. We adapt our approach based on the client’s needs and work backwards from their vision of success. We ensure a shared understanding of project goals and recommend the appropriate approach to achieve them. This collaborative approach allows us to bridge the gap between the client’s current state and where they want to be.

Impact and successful collaborations are crucial to the innovation process. The Innovation Manager acknowledges some of the challenges in this aspect and highlights the importance of clear communication. She notes that in certain cases, clients may face limitations in terms of time and budget, impacting the extent of our involvement. 

The Innovation Unit, therefore, makes it a priority to comprehend the client’s objectives and collaborate with them to attain the optimal outcome within the given resources and time.  It is a key aspect for the unit to create a lasting impact and real change through the work done. Looking ahead, The Innovation team looks towards a, where goals and aspirations revolve around building a better appreciation for innovation and its integral role in organizational success. Taonga envisions a future where innovation theater, which focuses on short-term activities without considering long-term impact, becomes less prevalent. 

BongoHive Consult aims to actively contribute to the development and collaboration with organizations, be it corporations, NGOs, INGOs, or CSOs, to cultivate a culture of innovation and implement strategies that lead to sustained success.

“Innovate or Die” is a saying that encapsulates the urgency and significance of innovation. BongoHive Consult strives to help organizations understand the true value of innovation and move away from activity-based approaches. They aim to guide clients towards long-term strategies and implementations that ensure the overall success of their organizations while contributing to the growth and advancement of the ecosystem as a whole.

In conclusion, BongoHive Consult’s Innovation Unit has been at the forefront of driving impactful and innovative projects. Through their collaborations with NGOs and corporations, they have addressed sustainability, health, and social challenges. Their user-centred approach, adoption of design thinking methodologies, and emphasis on long-term impact set them apart.

Moving forward, BongoHive Consult aspires to foster a deeper appreciation for innovation and contribute to the development of organizations that prioritize innovation as a key driver of success.

Are you seeking innovative solutions for your institution? Engage our Consult Innovation team today using our website and unlock the potential for transformative change. 

Let us tailor bespoke strategies to meet your unique corporate or organisational needs and drive sustainable growth. Contact us now to revolutionize your institution and stay ahead in a rapidly evolving landscape. Together, we can shape a brighter future.