30 Jul 2014
Panorama of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. Photo: Al-Emrun Garjon
What happens when you bring together members of municipal governments, urban experts, civil society and staff from various countries to brainstorm on addressing urban challenges? Sounds like a typical meeting, but wait...
While city planners interacted and learnt from each other in tackling similar problems, what was far from obvious at the time was how they could transfer a successful practice, product or service from one context (say Beijing, China) to another (say Dhaka, Bangladesh)? And by different context, I mean how language, culture, history and society come together in an appreciably different way to render simple ‘replication’ of a service inapplicable, or, at the very least, a significant challenge. After all, we wouldn’t have to look far, or dig deep, to see the failed attempts of replicating a ‘good practice’ in a context other than its home.
Taking our cue from design-thinking
Design thinking allows us to unpack, reimagine and reconstruct a practice to see in what shape or form it might work in a different context. In our concrete case, Bangladesh counterparts are keen to adopt China’s successful one-stop-shop social service centres. The problem: urban residents in Bangladesh from low-income backgrounds find it hard to avail the social …