Does this sounds familiar to you? You see a need, you develop a solution while going for Target group analysis, user centric models, persona concepts, field surveys…. To understand the needs a lot of models have been applied, discussed and evaluated, including consultants from extern and intern.
But how often have you really interacted with your target group? I mean, You, in person? Or your consultants? How often did you have a chance or willingness to go really in direct contact with them, seen the environment where they live in, put a glimpse in just one day of their life? Have you observed the interlinkages to the people around them, the circumstances and values of certain behaviors, actions and re-actions, and considered the visible and invisible societal rules, the role of trust and self confidence?
Well, in our Making More Health Insights week in India we, 15 managers from Boehringer Ingelheim, working in various countries, had a very interesting day while interacting intensely with scavenger families. We learned from our local NGO partner Vizhuthugal about the daily challenges, the marginalization, the scavenger village. We heard about the low education and missing awareness about rights and about the widely spread assumption that what their fathers will be also their future. We have met young, even highly educated talents among them who don’t feel they could do other than what generations did before.
When we went to the village and asked them about their life, we realized how all these thoughts and behaviors, needs and perceptions depend on each other, and that one solution – how good this solution might also look – might be no solution.
For sure, specific training sessions on a particular topic, eg women health, a better water tube system in the village, some income generation activity could be useful. But how long and how sustainable would it be, how much would it be “owned” by the community? What kind of impact, even negative impact could this have? How might it influence the whole system and which would be additional factors that should be considered (even beyond our own intentions and commitments on what to do) to make the change a real sustainable one?
Our priorities might not be theirs. Our solutions might not make a big and sustainable change happen as long as we don’t understand what and how the whole system works on the ground. As long as we think one obvious need needs one obvious solution.
Listen what even our Indian colleague, Kewal from Mumbai, experienced: Video