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💎 Friday Gems #35 (The Do No Harm Framework)
We are responsible for the outcomes of our design. We may have good intentions going into the design process but the outcomes of our designs could have unintentional and disastrous consequences unless we start by bringing awarness of our team’s biases, blindspots, and privileges to design products and lead with intentionality at each step of the process so that the products we design and build don’t cause harm to the people, communities, and the environment.
This week I am sharing insights from the Do No Harm framework created by Dr. Pardis Shafafi, a Strategic Design Lead & Head of Marketing and Giulia Bazoli, a Lead UX Designer who have presented their framework at conferences including Interaction 23 and the Service Design Network Global Conference 2023.
I hope learning about this framework will help us all develop the awareness needed to update our design processes and to be better able to forecast, prevent, and respond to the harm our designs can do. ✊🏽
On to this week’s gems!
💎 The Power Of Do No Harm In Design
Design is an act of power.
On the surface, it is great with pretty pixels and slick product websites, but as we have seen time and time again, once we scratch the surface just a bit to peek below the outer layer, we see the problems it has been a part of creating.
Just recently, Meta, the parent company of Instagram, has been sued by dozens of states, claiming it misled the public about the dangers of its platforms which hook children, causing depression, anxiety, and insomnia in kids.
While tech products may start off with good intentions, without a set framework and intentionality by all the people involved, both the immediate and the unintended consequences further down the line can do catastrophic damage and harm to users and their communities.
The concept of Do No Harm comes from the Hippocratic Oath, which says,
“The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future — must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.”
The Do No Harm framework for design
What I love about this approach is that it provides us the space to have the conversations we need to move with intentionality instead of a rush to deliver a final product at all costs. This framework helps our teams to develop a shared awareness around the potential negative consequences for people, society, and the environment and can be used across the entire design process from research to design to implementation.
The Do No Harm Framework
Step 1: Define areas of impact
Step 2: Self-reflect on your team (See note below)
Step 3: Identify potential harm
Step 4: Analyse and prioritize
Step 5: Define countermeasures to potential harm
Note: For step 2, I would recommend doing a positionality exercise with your team to identify the privileges, biases, and blindspots we may have and bring them to the team so we can all be aware of the lenses we are approaching our work.
Now is the time to stand up and talk about the potential harm the products we build can do.
Since businesses are about the bottom line the articles share some powerful stats to use to make a case for implementing the Do No Harm framework, such as,
A Zeno Group study of 8,000 consumers found that customers are four to six times more likely to trust, buy, champion, and protect companies with a strong purpose over those with a weaker one.
As with any change, we can start by taking small steps forward with intentionality and care by becoming aware of the potential for harm our designs can do and then starting a dialog with our teams on how to apply the Do No Harm framework in our own design process.
Now is the time to Do No Harm!
Continue reading: The Power of Do No Harm in Design
💎 A gem of a quote
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