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Co-design the project’s focus

Identifying project scope in collaboration with the community helps to incorporate specific needs and contexts.

Planning a collaborative activity usually starts with identifying the questions or broader topics that need to be further explored. This can be an overwhelming phase, as these topics may initially be too abstract, entangled with other issues, or too specific, structured, and biased. Other challenges may emerge as you explore topics in contexts or cultures that are different from your own. Ensuring the selected topics are relevant, understandable and not triggering for the participating communities are some important aspects to consider.

Once you have a broad topic/theme for a co-design event, you can invite participants/ collaborators to discuss different perspectives and share issues that are important to them and their communities and help define the focus of that project. Through this collaborative approach, you gain a better understanding of the participants’ context, culture, and accessibility requirements. This mutual understanding leads to planning co-design sessions in a direction that is more relevant to the community and is not exclusive of any group.


  • Select a broad topic that you would like to explore through a co-design activity.
  • Invite participants to an open process of exploring and refining the directions you want to take with this topic.
  • Work directly with the participants when possible, otherwise work with groups and organizations that advocate for your participants. This can be done in person, or via collaborative online tools, such as shared google documents to enable remote collaboration.
  • Discuss the following questions with your collaborators to refine the theme (share personal experiences):
    • How do you define this theme from your perspective?
    • What are the different characteristics/aspects of the theme?
    • What are the main values related to this theme?
    • Who are the people involved?
    • What kinds of activities are happening related to this theme?
    • What challenges/gaps are being experienced?
  • Use the responses to further refine the theme and further break it down to sub-themes.
  • Work with your collaborators to select one area.
  • Ensure your final theme is clear, easy to understand, and supported by additional materials for further guidance and clarification.