CSR Innovation:

Designing for Intrepreneurship

Design Research Lead

Feb - May 2018


Most CSR teams in Korea have failed to co-design with their nonprofit partners. Mission-based organizations, having to prepare for CSR teams and plan volunteering activities face losing valuable office hours. The quick, easy, one-time altruistic experience fails to address their needs.


By collaborating with nonprofits we wanted to find new territories where human-centered design thinking can be of real help. By creating spaces where bithe experiences of skilled employees matter  to share their experiences through work with nonprofit leaders By training the founders of nonprofit startups as DT facilitators we paved the way for them to sustain their work in innovating how they deliver their services. 

The AS-IS ma

The problem


As soon as the funding coming in from the government and supporting organizations fell short, the sustainability of their service was at risk. Since the price is only 1,000 won (about 1 $) per play for one child, it was impossible to cover the operational costs and the materials needed for each play session. The founder wanted to raise the service price to 10,000 won because she saw the value the parents and the kids were gaining. However, there was no sense of certainty or proof as to whether the current service was actually useful or valuable to the customer at the elevated price. The non-profit needed to reconnect with their users and find out what their real needs were and dig for new value propositions that fit their user's true needs. The purpose of the research was to conduct design research to discover new business opportunities for sustainability and scalability. We did this by improving and co-designing the current service flow into a better one.

Design Process

Our team focused on qualitative research. We first conducted on-site research sessions then drew out stakeholders journey maps. We visualized the whole service experience with the founders shortly after to share what we saw from a third party perspective. During the research, we found one external problem and four internal problems that hindered their growth.


1) The External problem

Playgrounds are spaces that are affected enormously by the weather. On rainy days or on the days when the micro-dust is heavy in Seoul, the non-profit had to find an indoor space to carry out the play program. When not able to find an indoor space, the program was canceled. In other words, there was a problem with continuously providing the service to its users when needed.


2) The internal problem (Service + Member)

Touch points with the end customer (parents) were weak. The main user of the service were the children, but the person who actually pays is the parent. In other words, they were missing the importance of continuously connecting with the indirect customers. When parents came to the scene, the non-profit did not try to empathize or observe their actions or needs.


We found out that they were taking advantage of all the time they could spend with their children at home in micro-must-moments (micro-must-moments means the time that has to be spent with the parents for necessity at home like bath time, bedtime) for playful moments. Parents were the experts on how their child spends their micro-must-moments at home. They knew their rituals, their little niches, and what kind of play they could conduct in these moments. The important thing was first to help revision the concept of play in these moments. We wanted to let them know that play does not have to be going to Disneyland or about going outside for an adventure but rather a daily small experiment. With their own expert like insights about their kids and the simple know-how to create an environment at home for play in a short amount of time, parents could engage with their kids more.

Instead of thinking outside of the box and looking ways we can make the play sessions in the playgrounds around scalable, we looked in and designed a service where the parents can first quickly learn how to design their own play for their kids at work.

Outputs and Outcomes

1) Co-Designing the play experience
Instead of anonymously recruiting kids from online marketing channels (previously, they informed and recruited kids via Kakotalk, an online platform that is similar to Facebook in Korea), we partnered up with CSR teams across different industries to launch a workshop during their work time at work. The goal of the workshop was to teach and show the parents at work how to design play. Instead of design- ing the next new toy, we focused on designing the experience of play from basic materials. The materials we used with the parents were mainly things that were used when prototyping in design thinking workshops; a fast and cheap tape, colored paper, play-do, etc.


2) How we designed play

We started with a question. “When was the last time you truly had fun with your kid?” The reason for this was to find keywords that described their most memorable time of play. We wanted to know the specific moments and bring about their previous experiences to get a grip on the touch points parents experience during play. They wrote down when, where, with whom they played with, and why it was memorable. From there, we used the ‘Compulsive Association Method’ where parents had to connect the keywords that sprung up from their memories with the elementary materials we had provided to them to design a creative way for players. We wanted to reframe the concept of play and show the parents how they can easily design an experience of play through everyday moments with everyday materials. For example, if a parent had said that they had the most fun while swimming with a child during the summer, they were to link the keywords like 'swimming' and 'water' with the one or two materials (tape, crayons, ropes, etc) provided for them during the workshop. Our client, who had extensive experience before in planning the experience of play were ‘‘play facilitators’. They helped and inspired the parents during the workshop by sharing their experiences with the kids.

New business opportunities. New ideas.

The parents got to make their own prototypes and also test their ideas during the workshop. They were able to design a 'customized play experience from their daily lives’ for their child through the workshop.


The Parents provided feedback such as below :

"My kids would love this..”

After testing with various corporate HRD(Human Resource Development) and CSR ( Corporate Social Responsibility) oriented workshops, we noticed what kind of value points the renewed workshop gave. It was easy and fun for parents to use the time at work to design something for their children. Because it was a partnership based workshop with corporates, the non-profit made new connections and opportunities sprung from referrals because this wasn’t just some traditional volunteering experience for employees. It was an interactive re-establishment of designing for social impact aimed at creating social change from home.


In addition, we found new opportunities for continuous growth. After the workshop, some of the participants wanted to take the materials used in the workshop home. They wanted to use what they have learned at home. In order to make the experience of designing their own play serviceable, we are now thinking of testing a subscription service that delivers the basic play materials used in the workshops monthly then document the play designs for content to share the experiences made domestically to other families, education facilities, and teachers.