Getting to Better

Welcome to Overlap's Getting to Better, our blog for stories, insights, and industry trends surrounding social innovation, capacity building, design thinking, and human-centred design.

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How A Journal Can be a Powerful Design Research Tool

November 07, 2017



Journaling is a great way to collect in-depth data on a participant’s experiences. This post will take you through some of the benefits and drawbacks of journaling, and some tips on how you might use journals in your own research.

As with any research tool, there are a few things to take into consideration before deploying it to ensure you’re collecting useful data.

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How to Use Community Prioritization Boards to Make Decisions

September 06, 2017

Decision making is tough enough as an individual, and it's even tougher as a community.

You want to be as inclusive as possible when making decisions as a community organization, but at the same time, you likely don't have the resources to try a whole lot of new ideas. 

You can find out which ideas resonate most with your community using a tool we call Community Prioritization Boards.

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3 Free Design Tools For Understanding Student Needs

August 31, 2017

The first step of engaging with students is listening to them. Whether the end goal is to help students feel comfortable on campus, succeed academically, transition into a career, or access the mental health services they need at school, working with students to create effective change is no small task.

Universities and colleges are recognizing that our education system will only be improved by engaging with the students they directly impact. Many school campuses are focused on having open and honest engagement between students, faculty, and staff.

In this post, you’ll find 3 design tools for understanding student needs that will give you the insights you need to make their experience better.

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3 Easy-to-Use Design Tools for Understanding Patient Needs

August 09, 2017

More and more, we recognize the need to engage patients in healthcare. "Improving patient engagement" is becoming a popular theme in hospital strategic plans, and governments are pushing for it to become a bigger priority too. 

So, we get that we have to engage patients more, but how do we do that? We don't want to just engage for the sake of engaging, right?

Here are 3 free and easy-to-use tools for engaging with patients that will give you the insights you need to make their experience better.

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15 Free Or Nearly Free Design Thinking Tools

July 18, 2017

Design is an empathy-driven approach to interacting with the world around us. Design Thinking began as the study of how designers think, but it continues to evolve in many areas outside of traditional design.

There’s no one way to practice design thinking—it’s a mindset that puts people and creative thinking at the forefront of problem-solving.

Begin applying this approach to your problem-solving with the following free design thinking tools.

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How to Use an Empathy Map

July 06, 2017

An Empathy Map is one of those tools that we always keep in our back pocket because it often produces an "aha!" moment and it is incredibly versatile.

Originally developed by Scott Matthews, Empathy Maps provide a process for empathizing with your own customers, service or product users, or stakeholders. They help us dig into a person's experience of the context in which we interact with them.

Continue reading to learn how to use an empathy map as a research tool and scroll to the bottom for a free download to try it yourself!

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3 Occasions for an Empathy Map

November 04, 2016


An empathy map is a way for you to understand the experience of an individual or a group. It’s a tool to help you empathize in a meaningful, useful way. You might have guessed, after reading about How to Use an Empathy Map, that the tool gets pulled out of our toolbelt often. We use them all the time in our work. Find three ideal opportunities for filling in an empathy map below, and scroll to the bottom for a free tool download!