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