We are a behavior change lab 100% focused on triggering change for good

We have designed and implemented behavior change for social impact since 2010.

We work with urgency and purpose to overcome obstacles and achieve real behavior change.

Our ideal partners are those who share our ambition to break from the “this is how it has always been done” mindset towards pushing bold new ideas. Our knowledge and expertise is for sharing, not hoarding. We encourage all our partners, customers and audiences to take our tools and methods and apply them wherever and whenever there’s an opportunity for positive change. We think everyone can do HCD, and everyone should do HCD.

17 Triggers started with the belief that if marketing could be used to sell beer and cigarettes, it could also be used to help people live healthier, happier lives.

2010: Shit got real

Since 1994, behavior change communication materials related to latrine usage in Cambodia featured either cartoon-style graphics or celebrities who made poop look playful. We got real, and visualized actual shit through photography and created a campaign that used shame and disgust to trigger uptake of improved latrines. While stakeholders were doubtful, user testing showed how real-shit got people talking.

2011: Kill the comic book

We were hired to create a comic book to increase demand for a micro-insurance product in India. The assumption was that women were not purchasing the product because they did not know what it was and how it worked. In-person research revealed that the barrier wasn’t a lack of knowledge, but rather problems within the claim process. We knew a comic book wasn’t the right solution because it was the customer journey that needed fixing. Since then, we’ve been committed to “kill the comic book” and stay focused on solving the real problem—not be led by assumptions.

2012: Democratizing workshops through sketches

We met with the marketing department of a company in Vietnam to understand the target audience of a drought-based insurance product. Senior managers dominated the discussion while junior staff sat in silence. The conversation was going nowhere, so we ripped a sheet of paper to smaller pieces, grabbed a thin black marker, and started sketching the target persona, Farmer Hoang. We drew each step of his customer journey and marked pain points within it. As we went through this exercise, the entire marketing team realized they needed to know their customer better and on that day, our proprietary Trigger Mapping tool was born.

2013: Defining and living our values

In 2013, we had the opportunity to attend the Unreasonable Institute in Boulder, CO. We walked away from an unforgettable six weeks of coaching with a belief in the importance of establishing core values that guide who we are and how we act. At 17 Triggers, our values drive everything we do: be a breath of fresh air, pass the microphone, poke holes and make it better, don’t drop the baton, always ask, “how might we make this work?.” and “it’s okay to say ‘no.’.” Every year, we recommit to living these values every day.

2014: Keep it simple, smarty pants

The problem with the innovation field is that we hold on to methods and processes as if it’s reserved for a select group of people who know how to do it. In an effort to make human centered design accessible to everyone, we designed a training curriculum for practitioners to teach them how to create target personas, map customer journeys, and identify peaks and pain points within that journey on their own. Trigger Mapping in a Box (TMIB) has been delivered from San Francisco to Manila, Kampala, and Ho Chi Minh city. Innovation is for everyone, not just the smarty pants.

2015: Health doesn’t always sell

A project 17 Triggers worked on with SNV Netherlands Cambodia was published in an action research study led by Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that if people understood the health and environmental benefits or consequences, then they would make the rational decision to change their behavior. We’ve found time and again that often, it’s something else that unlocks the key to change. For example, when it comes to cookstoves and latrines, it’s less about health benefits and consequences and more about aspirations for a modern life. With reducing the use of single-use plastic, it’s less about environmental messaging and more about tweaking the environment to shift behavior. 

2016: Small tweaks lead to big impact

Changing the default can really work! Vendors in Cambodian markets were asked to combine a variety of produce in one bag instead of using an individual bag for each item. This reduced plastic bag usage by 40% and customers didn’t mind. Our ACRA-funded project in collaboration with QuickSand studio was featured in CNA’s Field Guide to Innovation Series. The 25 minute video The Complexity of Plastics features the human-centered design process. Our team members Socheata Kong and Pised La were stand outs in their first global appearance on television. With reducing the use of single-use plastic, it’s less about environmental messaging and more about tweaking the environment to shift behavior.

2017: Delivering experiences to spread HCD

Many of us in the social sector were groomed to be rational, to limit risk taking and definitely not admit to failures. Applying HCD then requires a mindset change to embrace the squiggle to be open to experimentation in order to design behavioral interventions. The Innovation Circuit was designed for MetLife’s Foundation grantees designing innovative financial products and services . The three-day event included trips to innovation labs in Singapore, a team competition to apply HCD principles to tackle a common customer pain point and networking with leading innovators in the region. The event video can be viewed here.

2018: Design sprints keep us on our toes

With a sense of growing urgency to address global issues, many organizations want to work in quicker product and service design cycles. We re-designed the Design Sprint into a 4-6 week experience to quickly validate consumer insights, ideate solutions and quickly test with users. In Ivory Coast, we worked with GSMA funded Coliba to ideate and prototype ideas and create a blueprint for a new plastic recycling service launched in 2020. Design sprints help clients accelerate make-test-learn loops to get products and services to market faster.

2019: Product design for babies

We deepened our portfolio in Myanmar and worked with partners that understood that you sometimes need to make the path easier, more intuitive to enable sustained behavior change. Our teams worked in Chin State, Rakhine and the per-urban outskirts in Yangon to gain user insights to design new interventions to solve stubborn problems.  The Banana Bag is an innovative toolkit with physical and information tools and nudges designed to guide and encourage mothers and caretakers to introduce the right diversity and right portion at six months. The Potty Hub is an innovation that reduces open defecation by providing a safe and comfortable space for children aged 3-5 years in IDP camps in Rakhine state.

2020: Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Immediately in February 2020, we understood the importance to pivot and ensure that partners we work with had our support to protect their own staff and client base, adapt operations to mitigate risk of COVID-19 and also ensure digital skills were in place to work in remote and virtual methods. In Cambodia, under the USAID’s Promoting Healthy Behaviors Project, we designed interventions to increase preventive behaviors: COVID Bokator, targeted at caregivers in rural areas; and Long Life, focused on inspiring village chiefs and elderly audiences to make DIY hand washing stations at the entrance of their homes. 

Our Team

We are a group of people inspired by norms we can challenge, problems we can solve and lives we can improve.

Lillian C. Diaz

Owner and CEO

Lillian has spent 20 years in international development, working in over 25 countries. Since founding 17 Triggers, she has directed vision and strategy, advanced the application of HCD and behavioral science and led expansion into new markets.

Lillian’s passion has been to promote financial inclusion for the poor. While working for an MFI in Bolivia, she saw first-hand how vulnerable the poor are to economic and climatic shocks. She went on to work at USAID’s Office of Microenterprise Development in Washington D.C., and then was a global consultant for The SEEP Network, Microfinance Opportunities, CGAP and others on demand-side research, financial product and service design, and financial education. Lillian has a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs.

Lillian has lived in South East Asia since 2004 and is currently based in Yangon, Myanmar. She loves hiking in the mountains and listening to Latin American boleros.

Memory Bwalya Chirwa

Marketing Advisor & Trainer

Memory is a trainer and change agent who dedicates her creativity, ingenuity, and energy to create impact, helping entrepreneurs reach their fullest potential. At 17 Triggers she supports our efforts to motivate and build the capabilities of frontline workers.

Memory comes with 10 years experience in the training and customer experience space working throughout sub-Saharan Africa. She joined our team after 8 years helping to scale Zoona, an innovative Digital Financial Services (DFS) provider working across Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique, where she designed and implemented comprehensive training programs that were used to scale the agent network from 200 to 2,500 agent locations. She worked closely with partner organizations on various DFS projects. These organizations included UNCDF, KIVA, MasterCard Foundation, CGAP, and MEDA.

When she’s not busy studying for her Post Graduate Diploma in Management Practice at University of Cape Town, Memory loves to spend time camping and canoeing on the river.

Rin Dy

Production Assistant & Admin

Rindy works with teams to plan and execute production activities. Since his projects can take him anywhere from a creative studio office to busy markets, Rindy brings his tenacity and can-do attitude to 17 Triggers’ production team daily.

Rindy has over 15 years of experience in strategic and operational management in a variety of industries, including education, health, sanitation, airlines, and security, spanning business development, project management, and strategic development. Most recently Rindy worked as a Studio Manager for Phare Creative Studio, an organization which offers underprivileged youth educational, professional, and creative opportunities. Rindy holds an MBA from Norton University, a BA in Human Resources Management from the University of Management and Economics, and a degree in Pedagogy from the Regional Teacher Training Center.

When he’s not working, Rindy loves to play his guitar and listen to classic Khmer songs. He enjoys listening to motivational speakers and reading books because he believes there’s always something to learn.

Dorothee Etienne

Design Researcher & Strategist

Dorothee designs research tools and workshops which improve our understanding of people's sociocultural context. She identifies insights as the basis for the adoption, commitment, or building of new habits. Her background in product design leads her to imagine low-tech solutions which easily integrate into people's lives.

Dorothee has been working in Cambodia since 2013 as a consultant for NGOs and craftsmen to develop brand strategies that modernize traditional handicrafts. She shared her experience in human centered design with the next generation of creative talents teaching at Phare Visual and Applied Arts School and Limkokwing University. Previously, she worked in Decathlon's innovation department, mobilizing her curiosity in uncovering social trends which helped position the brand.

When Dorothee is not traveling around Asia, she hits the Cambodian road by motorbike - the perfect occasion to babble in Khmer while stopping for an iced coffee along the way.

Sharleen Hollick

Creative Lead

Sharleen brings over ten years of experience in visual communications to 17 Triggers. She is passionate about design that is as functional as it is beautiful. She believes in co-creating with the end user and quickly turns creative concepts into tangible forms. Sharleen facilitates workshops and leads the creative development of projects across various sectors including childhood nutrition and development, WASH and financial inclusion.

Prior to 17 Triggers, Sharleen held senior positions with major international advertising agencies, working as an art director and designer on through-the-line campaigns for some of Africa’s most loved brands. She has experience in graphic and product design, brand events and activations, UI design and brand strategy. A South African national, Sharleen holds her BA degree in Creative Brand Communications from Vega School.

Sharleen is a maker at heart, exploring her curiosity for all things creative from sewing and pottery to street art. She loves dreaming up travel adventures and spending time out in nature.

Edward Jeffries

Head of Production

Ed brings our behavior change interventions to life by taking tested prototypes and turning them into broadcast-ready material. Since 2015 Ed has produced everything we’ve envisioned, from mass media, below the line and print assets to digital campaign components.

As a teenager Edward started as a runner on TV commercials for Scotland's biggest production house. He worked in production for 15 years before moving to the agency side of advertising, producing TV, film, online and radio projects for one of the UK’s largest agencies, The Leith Agency. Edward completed his degree in Film, Photography and Imaging from Napier University Scotland.

Edward is a night owl and tends to be the last one to leave our Phnom Penh office. But when he is not working, you can spot him on the pitch playing football or watching his team play in the premier league.

Socheata Kong

Senior SBC Specialist

Socheata provides technical oversight for our USAID-funded project, Promoting Healthy Behaviors in Cambodia. She ensures that all interventions are strategically sound, designed using HCD and aim for measurable change. She focuses on family planning, tuberculosis, WASH, maternal and child health and nutrition, and Covid-19.

At 17 Triggers, she has previously worked as a Design Researcher, leading numerous projects for Population Services International, SNV Netherlands, Plan International and many others. Prior to 17 Triggers, she has held senior positions with major international NGOs focused on behaviour change and outreach in education and health. She holds a Masters degree in Educational management from Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Socheata is a modern mother who finds balance with a 4-day week. When she’s not busy with her children, you will find her designing and sewing masks for Covid-19 or painting glass flower vases.

Larry Leyden

Head of Business Development

As Head of Business Development, Larry is responsible for engaging all new business endeavors at 17 Triggers, His role ranges from project design and proposal development, to working closely with the leadership team to steer the organization through strategic decision making.

Before joining 17 Triggers in 2019, Larry honed his marketing, business management and leadership skills in the South African advertising industry for over a decade. As Client Service Director and member of the Management Team at J Walter Thompson in Cape Town, he worked with some of Africa’s most prominent brands, leading teams who created digital properties and multi-channel communication campaigns. Larry holds a Bachelors of Commerce in Marketing from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Larry is an avid ultra distance trail runner, and can often be found in the mountains around Cape Town, or writing and performing music with his band mates.

Sarah Millar

Senior Communications Manager

Sarah provides management oversight for our projects and is currently leading our largest project, the USAID-funded Promoting Healthy Behaviors in Cambodia. Sarah’s work brings together our team’s technical fieldwork, resource planning, and behaviour change strategies to produce outside-the-box interventions that are inside-the-budget and on time.

Prior to joining our Phnom Penh office, Sarah managed our largest sanitation marketing project in Zambia. She was in charge of partner and client management, media strategy and delivery, PR, in-community activation, guerrilla marketing and M&E. Sarah brings 14 years of marketing and communications experience in the global development sector. She spent six years working with rural communities across southern Africa, supporting their efforts to achieve customary land rights and protect the natural environments and wildlife. Sarah has a Bachelor Arts in Classical Studies from Otago University, New Zealand.

Most weekends you’ll find Sarah barefoot and heading for the jungle or beach in search of a natural balance to the lively Phnom Penh city life.

Sokkongkea Nop

Accountant

Sokkongkea joined 17 Triggers in 2019. He prepares our finance vouchers and keeps the accounting and bookkeeping in order. He is responsible for producing our monthly and yearly financial reports, while monitoring internal accounting controls and compliance to all applicable standards, tax laws and regulations.

Sokkongkea has always had a love for numbers, excelling in formulas and calculations. Before joining 17 Triggers, Sokkongkea worked as a Tax and Accountant Assistant at Leopard Business Consultancy (LBC). He graduated with a bachelor degree of accounting at Human Resources University (HRU) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and speaks Khmer, English and Chinese Mandarin.

Sokkongkea may be a quiet man, but he has a strong sociable side too. Whether it's playing football or an intense game of Khmer/Thai chess, he enjoys a challenge, and is always willing to go on an adventure when his friends call.

Karen Oetling

Creative Lead

With nearly 10 years’ experience designing socially-engaged communication campaigns, Karen brings a multidisciplinary skillset and a multinational perspective to the creative team. She is a strong conceptual thinker, passionate about storytelling and dedicated to making creative work that triggers behavior change.

Prior to working with 17 Triggers, Karen led the Social Campaign department at FABRICA, a Communication and Research Center based in Treviso, Italy. She has worked on worldwide campaigns for clients such as UNFPA, UNHCR, UN WOMEN, UN AIDS, and Benetton. She has also written and directed award-winning short films. Her creative skills span branding, typography, photography, retouching, video, and editorial design. Karen holds a BA in Design from ITESO in Mexico.

When not working Karen is drawn out into nature. As a keen adventurer, she loves rock climbing, skiing and hiking, and feeling tiny amidst the great mountain peaks.

Pilika Penh

Finance Manager

For the past five years, Pilika has kept a close eye on all things financial at 17 Triggers, ensuring maximum efficiency, transparency and accountability. She leads financial planning at the company, creates dashboards to help the company track our performance in order to learn and improve.

Prior to joining 17 Triggers in 2016 Pilika spent two years as the Accounting Manager at Spark and Tawandang Co. Before that she worked as an Internal Auditor in the Department of Internal Audit for the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries. Pilika Graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from the National University of Management (NUM) with a major in Accounting.

Pilika works to strike the right balance between her work and home life. She spends her spare time with her close friends and family, always willing to lend a helping hand, because "helping someone is a happiness!"

Francesca Pheasant

Design Researcher & Strategist

Francesca expertly manages her teams and client relations and leads projects from research through to implementation. She loves to immerse herself in the local context and discover the root causes of the problem at hand. She uses her product design background to create innovative and interactive research tools and solutions. Francesca is passionate about eco and circular design that empowers BoP end-users without causing environmental harm.

Prior to 17 Triggers she was the WASH Technical and Team Lead for a project with iDE Bangladesh. In this role, she designed and marketed WASH products which resulted in the sale of over 150K latrines. A UK native, Francesca holds two Bachelors of the Arts, one in Modern Languages and another in Product and Furniture Design.

Francesca is a traveler at heart, always taking full advantage of exploring the local cultures whilst in the field for work and during her spare time.

Viseth Prum

Design Researcher & Strategist

Viseth employs his research expertise, interview techniques and facilitation skills to understand target audiences, and to design and test solutions to achieve lasting change. He has worked on numerous projects covering a variety of topics including WASH, financial inclusion, insurance, nutrition sensitive agriculture, TB and Covid-19.

Viseth brings experience in research, particularly in health and agriculture, ranging from data collection to technical analysis. He has worked with various research institutes, including Mekong Dialogue Institute, FHI360, Ministry of Rural Development, and CEDAC. He holds two Master’s degrees: Food and Agricultural Policies from Kyushu University in Japan, and Agricultural Management and Rural Development from Cambodia’s Royal University of Agriculture.

Viseth is pursuing continued education in agriculture. In his free time, he also volunteers with NGOs and university students, supporting their thesis data analysis and professional development. Known for talking less and listening more, Viseth empathizes with everyone he meets and just loves to see them smile.

Imara Roychowdhury

Design Researcher & Strategist

Imara develops a foundation in the project subject matter and probes deeper with target audiences to understand core problems using qualitative and quantitative research methods. In partnership with experts and users, she facilitates strategic design and implementation of solutions. As a young design strategist she is full of curiosity, developing design research tools and breathing fresh energy to our ideation process.

Imara combines a public health, anthropology, and economics background, with global experience in the research and implementation of health systems programming. Her interest in innovative, community-driven methods led her to behavior change and design. Imara holds a Masters of Science in International Health Systems from Johns Hopkins University, and a dual Bachelors of Science in Public Health and Anthropology from Brandeis University.

Outside of work, Imara can be found socializing at restaurants around town. She loves to travel and also finds escape in novels. Burgeoning hobbies include watercolor painting, diving and running.

Tyler Tappendorf

Design Researcher & Strategist

Tyler delivers product and service design sprints for social and commercial organizations covering topics from financial inclusion, environmental impact to health. He is passionate about using HCD to jointly deliver value to customers while also building a solid business case for service providers.

For over 10 years Tyler has focused on designing and implementing customer-centric financial solutions in emerging markets. As a Co-Founder of Inclusivity Solutions, Tyler launched digital microinsurance products in four African countries in collaboration with mobile operators and banks. Prior to that he led financial inclusion research projects with Cenfri and served as Project Manager for Product Innovation with Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest microfinance institution. Tyler has published papers and blogs with the Gates Foundation, CGAP, and GSMA. He holds a Master of Public Administration Degree in International Development from Rutgers University, USA.

Tyler loves living in Cape Town where he splits his time between enjoying the beaches, hiking in the mountains, and sipping South African wines.

Willem van der Merwe

Managing Director

Willem has over 10 years experience leading organizations in the digital media and advertising industries. After witnessing the transformative effect of advertising and digital devices on human behaviour and attitudes, he shifted his focus to understanding and solving problems in developing countries.

Prior to joining 17 Triggers, Willem led digital strategies for clients in the MNO, retail, liquor, and fashion sectors at Trigger Isobar South Africa. His focus was adapting their communication, customer acquisition, and client engagement strategies to the developing mobile-first environment. During his time as Managing Partner at J. Walter Thompson Cape Town he managed the integration of digital into the agency service offerings. Willem holds a BA. Law degree from Stellenbosch University and completed an executive program at the MIT Sloan School of Management in Artificial Intelligence and the implications on business strategy.

On the weekends you’ll find Willem recharging with a hike in the mountains or enjoying good food and wine with friends.

Frazer MacRobert

Business Development Associate

As a Business Development Associate, Frazer is responsible for exploring opportunities for 17 Triggers and expanding our impact. His role supports project design whilst expanding our networks and long term strategy.

Prior to joining 17 Triggers, Frazer enjoyed an eclectic career path peppered with marketing, design, and operational duties—largely shaped by his entrepreneurial event management venture in Scotland. His time as Head of Communications at a local Phnom Penh HCD agency allowed him to discover and hone useful holistic methodologies whilst leading advertising and marketing output for major Cambodian brands. Frazer holds a DipHE with Merit in Social Sciences from the University of Glasgow, and an advanced professional certificate in strategic marketing management from the London Metropolitan School of Business & Management.

As a football enthusiast, Frazer is often found on the football fields wearing the most niche and 'objectively beautiful' kits from the modern game. His passion for sport, fashion, and business has spurred him on to develop concept kits and brand evolutions for professional clubs in his spare time.

Roll up your sleeves and design for real impact.

We work as small project teams with diverse skill sets and strengths. We are building a team of subject matter experts, strategists, behavioral scientists, designers, marketing and communication experts, product and service designers, and trainers.