In June 2020, Knowledge SUCCESS hosted a four-week virtual design thinking co-creation workshop with 20 family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) professionals working in Asia. In this interview, workshop participant Jan Llevado shares her experience as a member of Team FP Warriors.
Can you briefly describe your role as an FP/RH professional?
As the National Family Planning Program Manager at the Philippines Department of Health, I’m in charge of creating the strategic direction of the entire country’s family planning program, focusing specifically on health system strengthening and policy development. We propose the family planning program budget, we do the procurement, and the supply chain and logistics management for family planning commodities. In addition, we collaborate with existing development partners of the Philippines in terms of their provision of technical assistance to the department as well as the local government units.
During the workshop, you were tasked with reimagining ways FP/RH professionals access and use knowledge. What were your expectations going into the workshop for what would be discussed, what you would create? And how did the workshop measure up to those expectations?
I had already attended some design thinking courses. One on the Philippines’ health insurance and engaging informal sectors, and another on family planning communication for the department of health—they were quick and dirty. So my expectation for this workshop was simply to see how design thinking works with knowledge management—which we did, and so I’m happy I did the workshop.
How did moving from what was intended to be a face-to-face workshop to a virtual platform impact your experience as a participant?
It was quite challenging at the start and I think your creativity is sometimes hindered because you’re in your home office, you’re not in a creative space. So we were kind of limited. You’ll see that all of the solutions (from the Asia workshop) were Internet-based. But I think we pulled it through considering the challenges. It was also difficult to interact with the other participants since we’re not really meeting face-to-face and eye-to-eye. Being creative really involves connecting with other people. However, at the end of the workshop (during the prototype phase) when there was no facilitator, we had to come up with everything on our own—and I think that’s when the creativity really surfaced.
What did you like about your team’s solution and why do you hope it moves forward into development?
One guy in our team was really strong and he created the website’s interface and what it would look like, while the others provided the technical part of it. I think it’s innovative, but there are still a lot of questions to be answered. It does however answer the bigger question of knowledge management—there really is no one website where you can access a full collection of family planning materials.
Do you think gender dynamics are an important consideration when developing KM solutions—why or why not?
Yes, definitely. However, I actually didn’t feel the gender inequities in our group. Maybe because the women participants had such strong personalities.
After participating in our workshop, what do you see as the top benefits of using a design thinking approach to problem-solving?
Definitely, I have learned some important insights into the design thinking process. For example, I didn’t know about the “Rose, Bud, Thorn” activity — the name is really catchy and we can use it in other types of workshops. It’s a good process for segmenting and prioritizing, and making things more visual. My facilitators were also really good. If we didn’t have an answer, they didn’t stop probing or digging, but in a very diplomatic and calm way.
What is your biggest takeaway or learning about knowledge sharing in the FP/RH community from the workshop? Did participating in this workshop with other FP/RH professionals provide you with any new perspectives on knowledge sharing?
I learned a lot from our facilitators, observing how they did the facilitation part. I also discovered that it helps me to write things down so I can reflect and internalize. So the KM profile really helped us reflect over our challenges. For one, the Department is really pushing for knowledge management. Keeping important documents in a Google Drive is really one big step for us. Because before I came (I’ve been at the Department for just one year), the family planning unit was quite disrupted. There hadn’t been a program manager for quite a long time. So it really feels like we’re starting from scratch.