Who does this leave out? and What is the potential for harm that could come to the people we seek to serve? Two critical questions for any project design team. Not easy questions, but essential. And the decisions required after answering the questions are even tougher.
Generally speaking, in a country context there is value for an organisation to know who it is working with across all its projects. This allows projects to reduce the duplicate data it collects and it creates the opportunity for various insights. For example, ‘We are working with these families in project X, are they aware that their children could join this other project we running?’
However, we can’t take a blanket approach and always implement our data and system architecture the same way. We need to keep on asking the two critical questions. If we are implementing a project working with the LGBTQ community in a country or community where it is illegal or frowned upon, we need treat the data differently. There is potential for enormous harm to occur if the project data falls into the wrong hands. This is a design challenge – not an activity design challenge, but an architecture one. It also is a political challenge for the organisation.
By asking the two critical questions to a diverse group of participants, we quickly see nuance and complexity. One size doesn’t fit all. This is true about clothes, but also about templates, architecture, and digital transformation.
Asking the questions is the easy part. Doing something about the answers is the hard part. Do it anyway.
The choice is up to us.