Jenny Gallen & Saskia Steyrer/ Hans Sauer Stiftung (DE)

Friday 12 April / 9:15-9:45

Is a social design lab process a useful way to achieve transformation?

Transformation is a process about restructuring or developing new structures. It occurs over longer periods of time, is often not predictable and can be hard to plan. How can we approach challenges and guide people through participatory design processes in order to make positive impacts on their lives? Which principles should we follow in order to achieve sustainable benefits within a project? How can we develop ownership and liability among participants? How do we create leverage? These are some of the questions the social design lab in Munich is trying to find answers to. Within this strategic setting, the Hans Sauer Foundation is developing a model which offers a structure for different kinds of process trajectories.


About the Hans Sauer Foundation and the social design lab Since 1989, the Hans Sauer Foundation has been supporting innovative approaches which aim to improve social and ecological situations. For the past years, the Foundation has been searching for ways to put social innovation into practice more actively and reach new systemic levels. By testing participatory and co-design methods in different contexts such as education, migration, circular society and urban development the Foundation is gradually gaining more experience and knowledge on how to address challenges in these areas. The development of the social design lab is an approach to transfer learnings from project work into practical frameworks and make them usable and tangible for others.,
Hans Sauer Stiftung, Jenny Gallen & Saskia Steyrer


„Social design is about stimulating new social constellations and relationships that would have not existed otherwise.”

„Real systemic change can only be achieved when you grab the crocodile by both, the upper and the lower jaw.”

„The most important part of a social design process is the part before the actual design begins.”

Recommended Readings

Hassan, Zaid (2014) The Social Labs Revolution: A New Approach To Solving Our Most Complex Challenges. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

McGuinness, Tara & Slaughter, Anne-Marie (2019) The New Practice of Public Problem Solving. In: Stanford Social Innovation Review, 17 (2).


Rettig, Marc (2017) Three-part series on design for participation and Sam Kaner’s visual language: (1) Participation is great, but workshops are weak tea; (2) Simple sketches make your participation strategy clear; (3) How to visually plan a participatory creative process.