Social R&D Community member InWithForward is a social design organization that makes human services more human.

Kudoz is a community learning platform. It connects people with and without developmental disabilities to novel experiences in their city. The team is disrupting the stuckness and stagnation that contributes to declining quality of life, greater service dependencies, and rising costs.

1. Preparing

Before launching Kudo’s, the then 3-person team at InWithForward had intensive apprenticeship in design and sociology. The team had also three prior service (re-)design projects across New Zeland, Australia and the Netherlands, where they were able to develop processes that merged ethnography, service design, and lean-start-up methodologies.

2. Looking

Three-months of deep ethnographic fieldwork with adults with developmental disabilities in social housing complexes.

3. Thinking

Their research showed that adults living with disabilities were not always socially isolated, but they were often isolated from novelty and learning. They reframed the problem as one of a poverty of experiences, expectations, and meaningful connections.

Underpinning Kudoz are five theories:

Taken together, they suggest that a focus on building interests and drawing on strengths can improve people’s sense of self, create connections that ladder people to meaningful relationships, and employment opportunities.

InWithForward’s research showed that adults living with developmental disabilities were not always socially isolated, but they were often isolated from novelty and learning.

4. Developing
  1. social cognitive career theory
  2. learned hopefulness
  3. bridging social capital
  4. growth mindset
  5. positive psychology

Six-months of experience prototyping, and a year of beta-testing with adults with developmental disabilities using co-design and prototyping methods.

Kudoz was then run with a larger group of users, and the team beta-tested different kinds of business models.

5. Diffusing

A longitudinal follow-up study is in progress, including pre/post testing.

Here’s a significant change story:

Aaron loves language. After graduating high school, he wanted to go to college and study English. But the only program he was eligible for was warehouse packaging. Through Kudoz, Aaron learned screenwriting from a professional actor and comedy writing from a local comedian. These days, Aaron can be found at the local comedy club where he performs as a sit-down comedian.

If you want more information on Kudoz, go here:

The Social R&D Community is curated by the Social Innovation Canada. The Fellowship is an ongoing effort to seed a vibrant ecosystem of public good R&D across community, public, corporate and academic sectors.
The Social R&D Community acknowledges that our work takes place across the ancestral and unceded territories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.