Application of Design Thinking in Steering Innovation for Relevance and Societal Impact

Prof Muthoni Masinde

  • Duration: 60 min
  • Language: English
  • Ages: All Ages
  • Date: February 16, 2021 20:00
  • Recorded: Live session with recording available afterwards
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Many innovations fail to create social impacts due to lack of involvement of targeted beneficiaries. Given that design thinking (DT) emphasizes on empathy, invention, and iteration, its adoption in creating social innovations can help in reversing this trend.

In this presentation, the application of DT in creation of ITIKI is explained. ITIKI is an integrated system (artificial intelligent algorithms, weather sensors and a mobile Application) that combines weather data with the traditional knowledge of African farmers to predict droughts. ITIKI ( stands for Information Technology and Indigenous Knowledge with Intelligence. It sends farmers drought forecasts via an app or SMS message. The forecasts are also accessible through a web portal, emails and audio files.

Acknowledging that the main driver of ITIKI is the local people’s knowledge on droughts, three design science tools were applied in the entire innovation process leading to high rate of adoption in Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa.


Masinde is an Associate Professor and the Head of IT Department at the Central University of Technology, Free State (South Africa). She holds B.Sc, M.Sc and Ph.D Computer Science degrees from University of Nairobi, the Free University of Brussels and University of Cape Town respectively. Among her accomplishments is the development of ITIKI (, a drought prediction tool that taps into indigenous knowledge on natural disasters. Masinde is an NRF-rated researcher with over 60 scientific publications and has supervised several postgraduate studies. The applied nature of her research has also attracted social innovation funding such as being recipient of USAID funding under the 2017 Securing Water for Food programme.