baltimore Buildings
baltimore Buildings
baltimore Buildings
20NTC Session

The Unintended Consequences of Our Design Choices


When was the last time you heard someone ask ‘what are the unintended consequences of implementing this technology?’ or ‘who else may be affected by these decisions?’

The nonprofit sector needs to act quickly and respond to urgent needs, leaving less time to consider the potential negative effects our design choices may have. As individuals creating new strategic programs or technology, we need to be conscious of long term negative impacts and how small decisions could do more harm than good.

In this talk, I will illustrate ways interdisciplinary teams can use design-led methods, such as systems mapping and speculative scenarios, to challenge the ethical, cultural and social implications of design decisions. I will give examples of how this has been applied to complex problems such as: access to education for undocumented people, cash aid in emergency response, and how to foster better outcomes for young people leaving government care.

Target Audience

Anyone creating strategic programs or technology who want to learn methods to make sure their projects consider ethical implications


ProcessProgram DevelopmentResearchStrategy


Aly Blenkin

Unintended Consequences of design choices

Pivotal Act

Aly is the Associate Director of Pivotal Act, an initiative in Pivotal, dedicated to building technology that address social, humanitarian and environmental issues.

Prior to Pivotal, Aly was a user experience designer at ThoughtWorks doing work in the social impact space and before that worked in academia at Parsons in Design and Technology. She has consulted across private and social impact sectors on projects with large corporate clients like HSBC and Volkswagen to humanitarian organizations such as, Red Cross and Save the Children. Educated in Canada, New York, and Germany, Aly holds her master’s in Transdisciplinary Design, from Parsons in New York.

She won a Rockefeller grant and was a finalist for the Fast Company Innovation awards during that time for her thesis. She also studied Service Design at Köln International School of Design in Germany and has bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from the University of Alberta.



March 25, 2020


1:00pm – 1:30pm