8 Steps to Doing Top Notch Field Projects

Ever wondered about how to take field projects to the next notch? The eight (8) steps outlined by InSTEDD’s Nicolás di Tada may be just what you were looking for!

With over five (5) years of experience in the field, InSTEDD’s interdisciplinary team of public health experts, scientists, and software engineers help design different tools and build local capacity to solve critical health, safety and development problems as they arise.

The steps listed below are appropriate virtually all settings!

The Countdown Begins

8 – Be There

Unless you are on site, your potential contributions are limited. Being “there” helps you understand a given scenario in a way that other means cannot.

7 – Be Ready

Bring all the tools necessary to do your work. In resource constrained settings this may mean things as simple as water or as unusual as solar panels.

6 – Think Small, Act Fast

In many emergency and disaster situations, time is of the essence. Every passing minute can mean a lost life. As described by di Tada, an iterative cycle that moves along the following sequence: Observe –> Design/Redefine –> Prototype –> Publish –> Back to “Observe”, can help manage this. Unlike most circumstances where this can take a month or more, the tool may need be released into the field within days or even hours of beginning.

5 – One User to Rule them All

This is exactly what it says. Although one might be tempted to try designing a tool that pleases the full spectrum of users, this is usually not possible in emergency situations. Instead, select a user and let that person represent your universe of users.

4 – Get Feedback in Short Bursts

Forget about those long user studies and get all of the information you need to make the product better in the time it takes to consume a cup of hot chocolate.

3 – Feel Comfortable With What’s On The Table:

Design tools that make use of resources that are easily accessible, for example, low-end cell phones, radio and even paper. Doing so increases the chances that your tool will be used after your departure.

2 – Divide and Conquer

When you arrive at an emergency situation the tendency is to try to address everything at once. Resist this urge! Instead list what needs to do be  done and prioritize the tasks.

1 – Train

Equipping local stakeholders with the knowledge and ability to use the tools you design has several benefits. Among them is that it multiples the potential reach of the tool and it can lead to product adoption.

For Nicholas  di Tada’s full PPT deck click here.


Well, there you have it! The 8 steps you should follow if you want to take your field projects to the next level! Have questions or comments share them below OR contact InSTEDD.

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