Changemaking 101: The Discovery Framework Tool


Welcome to Ashoka's crash course on Changemaking! - a 50-minute video-led journey to help you find ways to think more innovatively about your approach to social change.

This hands-on course helps you learn more about the entrepreneurial mindset and discover new ideas for crafting a stronger project for social change. It is built upon Ashoka Changemakers' Discovery Framework tool which offers an entrepreneurial lens on how complex social challenges are being successfully tackled on the ground by the world's leading social entrepreneurs.

Using the video, the worksheet, and the plan below, this course will take you through a step-by-step process that opens your eyes to a powerful way of thinking about social issues and innovation.

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Have a Social Cause You Are Passionate About
Find a Partner to Take the Virtual Course With

More Information

Who this course if for

Individuals that are:

  • (1) Passionate about tackling a social problem
  • (2) Have a project for social change or are ready to start one

How the course works

The purpose of this course is to help you to focus on a challenge you would like to help solve, identify the most pressing problems and promising solutions, and map these problems and solutions to gain a better understanding of the field you are passionate about. Using a worksheet, you will walk through each of these steps of the Discovery Framework Tool, spotting trends as well as gaps.

Note: Especially because this is a crash course, keep in mind that the point is more about the insights sparked during the process, not just mapping your field of interest.

What you’ll learn

Since Ashoka was founded 30 years ago, we have reviewed tens of thousands of proposals by people passionate about solving social problems. As a result, we have noticed a common skill set among the most successful changemakers. This hands-on course is designed to quickly introduce you to these skills, and to give you a chance to practice them. It teaches you how to use a tool called the “Discovery Framework,” which helps you practice the type of analysis needed to craft a stronger solution for social change.

The changemaking skills practiced while using the Discovery Framework tool include:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Collaboration
  • Authenticity
  • Focus
  • Problem Solving
  • Understanding the Marketplace
  • Root Cause Analysis
  • Systems Thinking
  • Openness
  • Resourcefulness
  • Solutions Orientation

About Ashoka’s Discovery Framework Tool

The Changemaking 101 course offers a brief, crash course version of the main components of Ashoka’s Discovery Framework. The Discovery Framework is a report methodology by Ashoka Changemakers that offers an analysis of how diverse solutions work together to affect a complex social challenge (see examples on our insights page). The Discovery Framework is the first step we take when launching a call for solutions and collaboration in a given field. It considers the multiple components of a problem (which we call barriers) and the most promising insights (which we call design principles) that have the power to shift them. This approach is a different way of thinking about systems change—one that values practice over theory and on-the-ground invention over academic analysis. The barriers and design principles provide a road map for evaluating new projects and for guiding the invention of new ideas. To learn more about using the Discovery Framework for your own organizational goals, please contact us.

What you’ll need

  • Worksheet: print both sides of the provided worksheet and place them side-by-side. There is also a sample version of a filled out worksheet that may come in handy to refer to during the course.
  • A Partner: A partner is important for this exercise, just as it is in any project for social change, because your partner will help you think of things you might not have thought of alone, motivate you to keep going even if you don’t feel like you know where to go next, and help you have fun along the way. Without a partner, you may not be able to reflect as deeply or uncover as many insights - two things that are essential for successfully taking this course.
  • A Social Cause: You will be more successful in benefiting from the steps in this course if you already have an issue that you are passionate about. You might be considering launching a new project or preparing to scale, either way this course is designed to help you.


This course was created by the Ashoka Changemakers team including Reem Rahman alongside the invaluable support of Turner Shaw and Hao Zhu. It was inspired by the Stanford Design Thinking Crash Course.

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