Managing design / designing management

Shake it off

A concept map that summarizes all the possible interventions that compose a strategy, from earthquake preparations to fund prioritization.

How might we speed up the post-earthquake relief in Italy?

To experiment first-hand the power of strategic design research, I spent few months collecting quantitative and qualitative evidences, engaging with relevant stakeholders, and building up progressively a concept strategy to speed up post earthquake recovery.

Problem statement

The problem I was contending with was so wicked that even defining a research rationale was a complex endeavor. Therefore, as a first step of the design research, I started to narrow down a research rational, as accurate as possible, to specify the research boundaries.

The research rationale would include:

  1. The field of inquiry and its context.
  2. The main known challenges.
  3. Key research questions.
  4. Quantitative and qualitative explorations.
  5. Stakeholders and experts to be engaged in the process.

You can find the full research rationale in this other post.

Ruins of Castelluccio di Norcia (Italy) after a devastating earthquake
Ruins of Castelluccio di Norcia (Italy) after a devastating earthquake

Quantitative explorations

I proceeded looking at all the available datasources, starting from the one specifically looking at the nature of the seismic events and their impact, trying to wrap my head around the Italian specificities.

Here you can find the first open-source data visualization I assembled, based on data from I hope it will serve as a base for other researches. You can also explore the interactive version here.

A map showing frequencies and severity of earthquake around the world.
A map showing frequencies and severity of earthquake around the world.

In parallel, the quantitative explorations looked at all the other factors contributing to the relief process: from the first-minute interventions, communications, technologies, funding, mid and long terms processes.

Key quantitative insights

Based on the data v

  1. Earthquake in Italy are consistent and severe, but not extraordinary in terms of losses or damages.
  2. Immediate communication and coordinations works fairly well under Protezione Civile lead…
  3. …but there is no current bottom-up communication standard.
  4. Infos are fragmented and hand acquired
  5. Great progress have been made in reconstruction open datasets and accountability in some cases…
  6. …but Italy is one of the few “first world country” with no coordination for funds
  7. As a result, Church-owned heritage gets fixed extra fast
  8. …while private struggles to receive funding (requires projects proposal and approval from the public).
A datamap where the key insights have been highlighted
A data-map, where the key quantitative insights have been highlighted

Infographics to kickstart stakeholder engagement

I then proceeded condensing the whole first part of the research into a summary infographics, a flexible tool that can be used to engage stakeholders and experts, as well as consolidating insights and core talking points in my mind, for followup discussions with people who are way more into the subject than myself.

infographics with key insights from quantitive research

Qualitative, on field research

Building on top of the key insights of the quantitative explorations, I went talking with the central Italy population to gain some insights. Layering feelings over facts to get a 360° view on the subject.

I spoke to around 50 people in between citizens, local elderly, students, business owners, civil servants, the civil protection and the firefighters leaderships. Not only it was really informative to understand the “why” behind data and contrasting evidences, but most of all it was really touching to see how many doors open up when you come from a helping perspecive.

Here the highlights of the qualitative research.

Stakeholder interview video

Gathering opportunities

Opportunities can emerge all throughout the process. For this reason, I noted them and their source all across the process, wheather they originated from:

  • desk research
  • experts
  • stakeholders (and which of them)
  • online (specialized forum and social channels)

After the stakeholder engagement, I consolidated a complete opportunity matrix.

Opportunity matrix, containing solutions coming from all the stakeholders of the project

Organizing opportunities into a strategy

By re-engaging with stakeholders and making good use of business sense, backing it I reassembled the whole opportunities into a unitary concept based of key values.

The journey has not ended yet: this step represents the conclusion of a strategic research phase, and the beginning of the strategic development phase.

A concept map that summarizes all the possible interventions that compose a strategy, from earthquake preparations to fund prioritization.
Key value on which the strategy research was summarized

Few numbers

120 stakholders

contacted via mail outreach, linkedin or personal connections

50 hours

on the field, plus 25 hours of car travelling (I was a full time student at this point)

46 interviews

One to one with an extremely diverse panel