Co-design outcome summary

Activity for Ideas And Outcomes


A co-design outcome summary is a report that helps bring clarity, direction, and scope to a project and its goals by gathering and presenting ideas and concepts that emerge from collaborative design activities and other inclusive design practices.

A co-design outcome summary can contain:

  • explanations of methodologies
  • collection of emerging ideas and concepts
  • design and development recommendations
  • considerations for further short term and long term explorations

Co-design outcome summaries can be used as a communication tool to help stakeholders and other interested parties understand the issues and needs of the community they are working with, and possible approaches to address them. Co-design outcome summary can also be used as a “hand-off” report to facilitate team or work transitions.

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The purpose of the co-design outcome summary is to provide direction for continued co-design work at any stage in the project when the design may not yet be fully realized, but some co-design activities have been completed. It can also help enhance clarity and define scope by summarizing the outcomes synthesized from co-design activities so far, and by providing specific actionable recommendations, suggestions, and ideas. Over the course of a project, multiple co-design outcome summaries can be created.

Read more in Synthesizing Co-design Outcomes and Co-designing Synthesis.

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A co-design outcome summary can be created whenever a meaningful milestone has been reached and there is a desire to share the design journey up to that point (read more in Design Process).

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Things to consider

Aid understanding

The co-design outcome summary can include contextual information to support the intended audience in better understanding the co-design outcomes and suggested approaches. This may require providing detail about the issues being addressed, the co-design process, and/or methods used to synthesize or prioritize design ideas.

For example, if a particular collaborative design process or activity was used, it may be useful to describe that process or activity in detail in order to support a better understanding of the co-designed outcomes that came from it.

Preserve and respect diversity

The process of creating a co-design outcome summary likely requires combining and summarizing diverse findings to allow others to understand, at a high level, the work that has been done. This process may result in generalized or abstracted ideas which can lead to a loss of unique voices and perspectives, which in turn can lead to a lost opportunity for innovation.

The following are some strategies to help maintain diverse voices and contributions:

  • When generalizations or abstractions are made, acknowledge that these may not capture all contributions by all participants.
  • Balance generalizations with examples of individual contributions throughout the co-design outcome summary.
  • Give examples of contributions that do not fit neatly into a generalization and explain why those contributions may be interesting or significant.
  • Include an appendix or refer to a source where all individual contributions can be accessed.
  • Cite and attribute ideas or concepts to specific co-designers when possible.
  • Seek ways to involve co-designers as collaborators or co-authors on the creation of the summary.

Embrace Lack of Completeness

Emphasize that the co-design outcome summary represents a culmination of what is understood so far and that there is more exploration and refinement to be done.

This can be done by:

  • Documenting the lack of completeness where necessary. For example, synthesized findings may highlight a particular response by participants that may not be fully understood and may be worth further exploration.
  • Including a section about possible future directions for further co-design and promising untapped ideas.
  • Using open and flexible language such as “good practices” instead of “best practices”, and “approaches” instead of “solutions”. This helps to reinforce the idea that understanding of the topic will continue to grow and change instead of being static, final, or absolute.

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Contents of a co-design outcome summary

The contents of a co-design outcome summary can vary depending on the audience, project stage, and other factors. A co-design outcome summary can include:

  • A summary of the design process taken so far which can include how co-designers were selected, details about workshop structure, and co-design tools and processes used at these events.
  • Findings that have emerged from the design process. This can include any synthesis and interesting themes.
  • Presentation and discussion of concepts and ideas including design mockups, prototypes, or other artifacts.
  • Direction and suggestions for future design and development based on co-design findings and artifacts.
  • Possible plans for future exploration.

A project may have multiple co-design outcome summaries created at different milestones and can show the evolution and refinement of ideas, concepts, and artifacts over time - giving further clarity, direction, and scope.

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