4 Takeaways from A360’s Prototyping Phase

This blog series is a part of the A360 Open Source, a treasure chest of learnings and tools that you can apply as we work, together, to drive youth-powered sexual and reproductive health breakthroughs.

Dear Future Implementers,

We’re all working toward the same goal.

But despite the inroads our field has made, gaps still persist in how young people can access the widest range of modern contraceptive options, from who they want, when they want and how they want.

You, like us, know that things can be different.

A youth-powered model builds from young people’s insights to develop prototypes that account for the forces that shape young people’s worlds. By working in partnership with young people, we can drive toward a future in which all girls have a right to dream, to use their voices to pursue their life goals and to have access to the tools and services they need to make the choices that define their lives.

That’s where change begins.

What have we learned from prototyping? And where has that taken us?

Take a look at 4 recommendations from A360:

1. Commit to ethical prototyping and “Do no harm.

“Make sure to incorporate A360 tools EVERY TIME go into the field. It made us make sure the teams take informed choice seriously — and considered ‘Do No Harm’ as first hurdle of prototyping.”—Melissa Higbie, A360 Project Director, PSI

Safeguard the young people we work with and for while sharing power. That includes creating private, judgment-free spaces for young people to freely express themselves, compensating young designers for their time and work and ensuring our youngest partners know that they can stop at any time.

2. Embrace change and expect confusion.

“This process is not such an easy thing, unless you are experienced. There were times when hear that something else failed out there [in the field], or maybe just this one person doesn’t agree, or the team is confused by all these prototypes. Sometimes, there a lot of confusion. One helpful thing – we had experts to support us. We would vet our ideas through them. When we had our ideas together, we will present to program and marketing department to assess what we’ve tested – they will chime in on findings. Their feedback was helpful and clear.” —Edwin Mtei, A360 Tanzania Program Director, PSI/Tanzania

Identify appropriate disciplinary experts who are ready to play a meaningful role alongside youth in providing guidance, clarity, interpretation and assessment of results.

3. Leverage diverse perspectives.

“Design teams think conceptually. Country teams think really practically. There is a real tension and, sometimes, a really hard collaborative match,” Ahna Suleiman, Adolescent Developmental Scientist

That includes youth, as well as designers who may think more conceptually and country teams who understand practical considerations, health system realities, and local contexts — to create prototypes that are desirable, feasible, and viable.

What did that look like for A360?

In Ethiopia, Smart Start introduces contraceptive counseling through financial planning.

In Tanzania, Kuwa Mjanja hosts pop-events that use bold girl-powered branding to reframe the conversation about girls, and contraception.

In Nigeria, 9ja Girls’ Safe Spaces are stigma-free, allowing girls to seamlessly gain entrepreneurial skills to support their desire for financial independence; ask questions about their bodies and lives; and access AYSRH services in service of girls’ self-expressed need to navigate changing, complex times.

4. Follow where the prototype takes you.

“A360 gets you to the heart of the community. Instead of respondents coming to you to tell you what they think you want to hear, it’s about going to the community, seeing the world through their eyes based on their first-hand experiences.” —Edwin Mtei, A360 Tanzania Program Director, PSI/Tanzania

Understand that your solution may ultimately fuse successful elements of several prototypes. As the PSI/Tanzania team stresses: “Any idea is worth testing. Those that work, get put to work.” Follow where our prototypes took us in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria.

Want more? We’re not interested in sitting on secrets.

Dive into all we learned, and the tools you can use, in the A360 Open Source’s Prototyping section.