We use behavioral science and human-centered design to create scalable social impact.

Our approach to behavioral research and design is grounded in creating meaningful results for our clients. We believe that treating clients as partners and developing their capacity can have powerful results. Every project is grounded in science. With our commitment to co-design, we not only place users at the center of our work, but engage them in the development of possible solutions. We believe in testing and measuring our work, creating context-specific solutions, and delivering appropriate interventions, not silver carrots.






Understanding the Context

Our discovery activities rely on immersive research to analyze human behavior – both decisions and actions – and the factors that prevent individuals from adopting and using new processes or technologies. We use a variety of participatory tools to gain a deeper understanding of the audience, drawing on in-depth interviews, behavioral mapping, customer journey maps, empathy maps, and other techniques to focus on a specific population.

Turning Insights into Ideas

Our design process is collaborative, participatory, and iterative. Responding to the insights from our discovery activities, we use the diverse perspectives of our team to generate potential solutions to our challenge.

Bringing Ideas to Life

During our design activities, we employ hard creative skills like art, copy, and experience design to make the most promising concepts "come alive". Once we have something to work with, we use real-time, in-market feedback to improve the idea. End-users become designers, testers, and advisors to ensure our final designs represent their preferences and behaviors.

Rigorous Reflection

Testing proposed designs is a critical element of our methodology. We generate qualitative evidence by running pilot tests and eliciting user feedback. We gather quantitative evidence with small-scale, randomized controlled trials. Through quick and inexpensive experiments, we generate hard data our partners can use to make informed operational and business decisions.


  • Context-Centered

    As behaviorally-informed designers and researchers we change the context, not the person.

  • Collaborative

    With a goal towards co-design and co-creation, we believe in the power of collaboration with each other, our clients, and their stakeholders.

  • Impact-Focused

    By performing rigorous research and measuring the impact of our work we are able to live up to our commitment to social impact.

  • Capacity-Building

    Actionable insights and developing staff capacity leaves our clients better off.

  • Reflective

    Reflecting on the impact of our work is critical to building thoughtful partnerships with clients and communities


Behavioral Science

Human-centered Design

Behavioral science is a discipline that seeks to understand human action by applying psychological insights to everything from economic decisions-making to group dynamics.

At GRID Impact, behavioral science informs all of our work and helps us ensure that we are creating solutions that will be successfully adopted.

Some Consequences of Having Too Little

Low-income individuals frequently engage in behavior like excessive borrowing that can exacerbate the conditions of poverty.  While some explanations for this behavior focus on environmental, personality or cultural factors, the authors of this piece are argue that scarcity itself (the condition of simply not having enough economic resources) alters how people allocate their attention and, therefore, make decisions.

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Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function

This article, published in Science, provides evidence for what many have long suspected: that living in poverty can have a burdensome cognitive effect.  Drawing on research conducted in India and New Jersey, authors suggest that the negative cognitive impact is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources.

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Applying Behavioral Economics to Improve Microsavings Outcomes

As financial institutions try to expand and formalize financial inclusion, they sometimes struggle to design products that meet the needs and preferences of their target customers. Improving financial inclusion outcomes requires a deeper understanding of client financial behaviors, preferences and desires in order to improve the design, development and implementation of financial products.

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Portfolios of the Poor

This ambitious book followed 250 families from South Africa, India, and Bangladesh living in extreme poverty around the world to understand how they managed their money over the course of a year.  Researchers uncovered that the financial practices of those living at the base of the pyramid were much more sophisticated and complex than stereotypes and policy suggested.

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Human-centered design (HCD) is a research and problem-solving methodology that places the experiences and preferences of users at its center to create thoughtful interventions.

GRID Impact uses an iterative human-centered design process in all of its projects.

Informing Our Intuition: Design Research for Radical Innovation

Jane Fulton Suri’s article is a staple on design research syllabi.  Drawing on her decades-long career bringing desirable products and services to the public, Suri examines the often blurry lines between research and knowledge creation, innovation and intuition.

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IDEO Design Kit: The Human-Centered Design Toolkit

This free-to-download book comes complete with 57 design methods and an explanation of the mindsets crucial to practicing social design from IDEO.org.  Case studies and worksheets included in the book bring human-centered design to life and offer readers a chance to sharpen their skills.

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Frog Design’s Collective Action Toolkit

Frog Design’s Collective Action Toolkit is the open source tool for change-makers looking to integrate social design into their organizations. With official translations are available in English, French, Spanish and Chinese and unofficial translations in another half dozen languages this toolkit is helping to create change through design around the world.

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Service Design Toolkit

This toolkit focuses on designing and innovating services for everyone that interacts with them (users, stakeholders, etc).  Included in the toolkit are worksheets that can be used to teach and practice service design as well as posters and cards for those new to the methodology.

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From Small Ideas to Radical Service Innovation

Authored by two service designers from IDEO, this piece from the Design Management Institute provides a five-step model for supporting innovation in service design. The model brought to life with a case study from the financial services world and clarified through illustrations and graphs.

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David Kelley’s TED talk on Human Centered Design

Delivered in 2002, before the term UX entered common parlance, David Kelley explores the how the design world balanced the importance of product creation with an increasing emphasis on experience.

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Design Thinking for Social Innovation

While design thinking might have begun as process to through which to craft new products for corporations, it has evolved and expanded to be develop solutions to complex social problems.  This piece by Tim Brown and Joyce Wyatt was first published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review and outlines how design thinking can be adopted by non-profits and foundations.

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