Scout Labs

Designing for social impact

What is Scout Labs?

Scout Labs is our social innovation initiative that uses human-centered design to understand and create solutions for social issues in the Boston community. This yearlong endeavor is taken on by a team of interdisciplinary students who build connections and craft possible solutions with other departments at Northeastern, local businesses, community based organizations, and the people of Boston.

Our Process


Define the Challenge

So how do we start? During this first phase the Scout Labs team defines the project challenge. This means gathering topics that team members are excited about and conducting background research to see where there is room for innovation.



We observe, engage, and immerse ourselves in the subject. This means getting to know the users, interviewing them, and observing how they act in the context of our challenge. The team also talks to field experts and conducts academic research to understand the existing body of knowledge in the field.



We start this phase by taking insights and converting them into “How might we” questions. The goal is to fill in the second half of that question in order to find opportunities for what we can actually do with design.



At this step, the team takes their insights and newly defined point of view and begins to brainstorm ideas. During brainstorming sessions, we work under set time constraints and write down as many ideas as possible, using as many neon sticky notes as possible. After each of these exercises, we group similar ideas and to find common solutions.



This is where our ideas take form. We construct rapid prototypes that stay as low-fidelity as possible for as long as possible in order to focus on exactly what is being created. Seeing ideas in physical form makes them concrete and eliminates ambiguity.



Time to put our work out there! We user test the prototypes amongst the team and with other users. Feedback gained during this phase allows us to refine prototypes and solutions before sending tweaked versions out for another round. Seeing users react to prototypes allows more insight into how to best solve the problem.



Voila! The team implements their final solution, which they reach after iterative prototyping, user testing, and refinement.The team ultimately gets here by creating and building relationships in the community while adding positive solutions to relevant issues.