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  • Matthew McStravick

“Toolkits are a bit like toothbrushes - everybody wants one but nobody wants to use one.”


Photo: Nick Fewings

So, you’re designing a toolkit.. We see many toolkits designed and shared that never make it off the page and into the real world. The quote above, from our friend Adam Groves says it all. Part of the reason for this is that designers rarely take into account the circumstances and behaviours of the people they hope will use them. This results in many toolkits not being accessible in the right format, at the right time for the right people. 🔎 One of the lenses we use to address this is the UCL COM-B model for behaviour change. It suggests for someone to adopt a new behaviour they need the capability, the opportunity and the motivation to do so. For example, if it’s a ‘Difficult Conversations’ toolkit then how can we make these tools available at the point of, or just before, difficult conversations might take place.


One way is to create a product like the method cards below, developed as part of the Authentic Connection toolkit we created with and for OneYMCA. It’s not groundbreaking but having this on your desk makes it readily available and in the field of vision.



📖 Another approach is to boil down your toolkit into ’three golden rules’ that can be remembered and applied as part of a wider piece of work. We did at CAST Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology for the culture development of Catalyst network (shout out to Noam Sohachevsky for the wonderful graphic design). What might be the three key behaviours that will drive all the change you're seeking to help with?

👥 Wherever possible, we design and facilitate some peer learning ‘in the field’ over three months or more, to enable teams to support each other to adopt and adapt toolkits to their needs. Coming back to the materials, if only for 20 minutes at a checkin, builds memory and testing things in the field (plus a smidge of accountability) works wonders. ☕️ Lastly, since a hot drink tends to preface almost any work activity, never underestimate the value of a beautifully designed poster, strategically placed above the kettle 😉 like the one below we designed for Lancashire Women (shout out to Zahra Davidson and Katie Slee for their beautiful work on this). Bear in mind though that this might have a limited shelf life before it is ignored. Printing three different versions that can be rotated helps with this - keeping it fresh.