As one of the Disaster and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) Innovation Labs, the TUKLAS Innovation Labs is “set up to identify and grow areas of innovation that come directly from communities affected by crises.” The TUKLAS Innovation Labs believes that affected communities are better placed to understand their disaster realities and to find relevant, effective, and sustainable solutions towards preparedness. For TUKLAS, the work is really on identifying local practices that are worth exploring and scaling under an innovation lab approach.

On a macro level, the TUKLAS Innovation Labs also aims to contribute to the ongoing discourse on humanitarian innovations, on doing development differently through exploring innovation programming. What does innovating with, by, and for the community look like? How do we scale humanitarian innovations? What are the elements of lab support which could lead to scalable solutions? Is it more effective to support ideas or support people to be innovators? The TUKLAS Innovation Labs hopes to weigh in. This is seen as an exciting opportunity to both impact disaster-prone communities and identify new models of innovation in the humanitarian and development sector. As the human-centered design and design sprint enthusiasts may be familiar with, the TUKLAS Innovation Labs has been running a design challenge ever since we started:

How might we design a process that allows affected communities harness their own experience and knowledge and turn it into scalable solutions towards disaster preparedness?

Staying true to being agile and the “fail fast and fail often” principle, we may never know unless we try, then iterate accordingly.

For the past months, TUKLAS supported forty innovation teams from all walks of life to test and refine their solutions with and for 94 communities across the country towards disaster preparedness. From its run on April to December 2018, 36 innovation teams completed their projects and came up with working prototypes. We had a roadshow of Regional Pasundayag Innovation Fairs From February to March 2019 where they get to pitch to an audience of non-government organizations, local government units, private sector, and the academe to seek support to further their projects. Twelve of which were showcased in the Pasundayag National Innovation Fair, and three from those to the Global Innovation Demo Day in London last May 8, 2019.

Though the first run is considered as relatively successful in relation to the goal, the TUKLAS Innovation Labs felt that it could have been better. Majority of our previous portfolio are not grassroots innovators. Also, we allowed some of our subgrantees to not have genuine community membership in their teams. Going back to one of our core aims, TUKLAS hopes to provide opportunities to support idea generation for the disadvantaged.

Again, the design challenge is yet to be answered.

The search for TagaTUKLAS

Inspired by the learning visit with Mahali Lab last June 2018 and the realizations of the team came the birth of TUKLAS Design Sprint.  It aims to identify and support people from the community to come up with concept to user-tested prototypes within weeks, all while learning to make decisions based on actual data, using accelerated cycles for developing ideas, and connecting with the community and iterating based on feedback. As the name implies, it gives emphasis on being agile, on being able to produce outputs on a short period of time while still upholding the TUKLAS core themes- community engagement, human-centered design, and disaster preparedness. Another unique element of the Design Sprint is timeboxing, which according to Banfield, Lombardo, and Wax (2016)(1), give the sprinters “a way to eliminate distractions, focus their full attention, and get tangible results in short time frames.”

This is the TUKLAS team’s another attempt to address the design challenge, our How Might We.


What sets this process different from the first run is that it seeks people rather than ideas. As for TUKLAS, we believe that anyone can do innovation/ design thinking. It is just a matter of opening opportunities, giving them the appropriate tools, harnessing the right mindset and attitude, and providing ample resources to give them the right push to start innovating.

What TUKLAS did is to look for community members with the following criteria:

  • Sprinters should be a group of two to four that comes from the same community (Since the team wanted the sprinters to replicate the design sprint process to their respective community later on, thus this criterion)
  • Sprinters should come from the poor and marginalized sector
  • Sprinters should be able to participate full time in the Design Sprint activities for eight weeks
  • Sprinters should have the following innovator mindsets: Malikhain or Madiskarte (Creative); Pakikipagkapwa-tao (Empathize); Bumabangon kapag nagkakamali (Being able to learn from mistakes); and Nakikipagsapalaran (Risk-taker/ Embracing Ambiguity)

Our four community labs looked for the sprinters. They first tapped those innovation teams who did not make the cut in our first run. The community labs also utilized their networks of communities. Finally, we were able to choose fourteen sprinters that fit the criteria- 4 from Cagayan, 2 from Zambales, 4 from Dulag, and 4 from Brgy. Tatalon, Quezon City. We call the sprinters “trailblazers” or “tagaTUKLAS.” These tagaTUKLAS are  community association presidents, village/barangay councilors (Kagawad), Housewives, Water Meter Reader, Laborer, Computer Programmer Assistant, Barangay Employees, and Farmers.

The TagaTUKLAS during their pitching and graduation day on April 8, 2019.

TagaTUKLAS Benefits

On our first run, most of the innovation teams we supported have full time jobs, some are even students (high school/ college). This means that they get to test and refine with their partner community only during their vacant time, which is usually during the weekends. We believe that, in some way, it had a repercussion on the quality of the output they were able to produce and their pace as well.

So for this second run, we decided to look for tagaTUKLAS who are willing to focus their time and energy for eight weeks in the TUKLAS Design Sprint Process. It is then befitting to give them the necessary benefits given this demand.

Below are the tagaTUKLAS benefits:

  • Time-Off: The tagaTUKLAS are entitled to a two-day rest on Wednesdays and Thursdays of the 6-week Sprint. Trip home benefits can be availed during time off upon advance notice.
  • Stipend: Sprinters will be given a stipend for 40 days commensurate to their specified daily income.
  • Allowance: The tagaTUKLAS can reimburse their meals (3 times/day), laundry, transportation, and personal care
  • Accommodation: TUKLAS will provide accommodation near the site of the design sprint. Separate rooms will be arranged for male and female participants.
  • Load Allowance: TUKLAS will provide tagaTUKLAS a weekly load allowance to use for mobile data and keeping in touch with their families and contacts.

Partner Community

The first part of the design sprint will be done with an adopted community. The TUKLAS Innovation Labs chose Barangay Tatalon, Quezon City because:

  • Risk Index: Barangay Tatalon is an urban community at high risk for earthquake and flooding in Quezon City, Metro Manila.
  • Of time constraints: The TUKLAS team looked for existing projects with partner communities with consortium presence to cut the time for social preparation. Plan International happened to have a project with Barangay Tatalon.

The tagaTUKLAS went to Brgy. Tatalon in Quezon City, and talked with residents the problems they face during disasters. They developed working prototypes and pitched the solutions in Brgy. Tatalon on April 8 and in their graduation day on April 9.


The TUKLAS Innovation Labs, together with On-Off Group (OOG) which specializes in facilitating Design Sprints, run the TUKLAS Design Sprint. OOG gets to meet, input, and facilitate sessions with the tagaTUKLAS two times a week. In addition, the TUKLAS team hired a Community Design Sprint Facilitator (CDSF) who is with the tagaTUKLAS for 6 weeks. He is tasked to synthesize the weekly sessions and support the tagaTUKLAS from ideation to pitching, if needed.

Monitoring and Documentation

The TUKLAS Innovation Labs Design Sprint aims to monitor and document the following:

  • Number of communities engaged
  • Progress and Pivots: This refers to the number of changes in the problem identified, idea, prototype, to name a few. It also wants to make sense of these data by taking note of the triggers of the changes, how is it related to the previous pivot, and the results of the pivot.
  • Characteristics/ TagaTUKLAS Mindset Check: (a) CDSF gets to evaluate the tagaTUKLAS mindset every Day 5; (b) OOG gets to evaluate the tagaTUKLAS mindset every after his session, at least once a week; (c) Each tagaTUKLAS also assesses themselves every Day 5; and (d) TagaTUKLAS gets to evaluate a peer every Day 5.
  • Training Needs Analysis
  • Weekly Journals/ Weekly After Action Reviews every Day 5
  • One-on-One Consultations with CDSF and/or OOG

6-week SetUp

For the TUKLAS Design Sprint, the team decided to start the day on Friday (Day 1) and end it on Tuesday (Day 5). We allocated the weekend as field work days and the remaining days, i.e. Wednesday and Thursday as their rest days.

The schedule of the sprint are as follows:

  • WEEK 1: Orientation and Social Preparation
  • WEEK 2: Problem Identification
  • WEEK 3: Finalization of Problem
  • WEEK 4: Ideation and Prototyping
  • WEEK 5: Guided Iteration
  • WEEK 6: Pitching and Drafting of Concept Note

In addition to these topics are inputting sessions on Core Humanitarian Standards; Community Organizing Fundamentals; Basics of Internet Research; Basics of DRR Laws; and How to Pitch.

The TagaTUKLAS during their prototyping and guided iteration week.

10 days back to their communities

After their graduation last April 9, 2019, the tagaTUKLAS returned to their own villages to re-do the process and come up with disaster preparedness solutions which are context-specific, problem-specific, and inclusive.

The TUKLAS Innovation Labs monitored (a) how they replicated the design thinking process; (b) the problem they have identified, proposed solutions, and key pivots and triggers; (c) their key realizations; and (d) their plans after the ten days.

The measurement of success is that if they were able to come up with innovative solutions that have gone through a series of consultations with their respective communities.

TUKLAS conducted at least three monitoring visits with the tagaTUKLAS to check their progress and the last day to attend their pitch session with the barangay  (i.e. Days 1, 5, 9, and 10). The tagaTUKLAS were expected to dedicate eight hours per day to the rollout. They also received ample stipend and allowance for these activities.

Day 10: Team Barangay Tatalon pitching to the community, the barangay administrator and barangay coordinator, April 25, 2019.


(1) Banfield, R., Lombardo, C.T., and Wax, T. (2016). Design Sprint: A Practical Guidebook for Building Great Digital Products. O’Reily Media, Inc.: USA.