Historically, the tendency within foreign aid has been to promote and support development through the identification and rollout of ‘best practices’. However, this process has arguably been shaped more by the needs of aid bureaucracies than by evidence and research.

Instead we advocate for the co-design and co-development of ‘best fit’ solutions as a core guiding principle for development.  ‘Best fit’, a concept stemming from governance efforts, describes aid programmes that are optimally adapted to the political, social and economic context. Such programmes can take advantage of a plurality of possible solutions, which can be deployed flexibly. They often work at multiple levels simultaneously – from community to national and even global policy levels – in order to facilitate and bring about change.

At the start of our CO-DESIGN phase, the project has been taken through a formal sign-off, which has given the political and financial backing to the development of one or more concepts that have addressed the initial problem.  During the stage, the design team, either together with key internal and external partners, refine one or more concepts that will address the problems or issues identified during the ASSESS stage.

Whatever client is designing, the principle of this phase is to prototype and iterate the concept to get it as close to an end product or service as possible. Lessons from each round of development are fed back in through formal and informal communications within the project team and with its stakeholders.  At the end of this stage, the design process will have brought the design team to a stage where the public good or service is read for full delivery.