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How It Works

Brainstorming and design thinking are great. But you, your team or your students need a more targeted way to solve complex problems. Social science holds the key.



From the Introduction


The main reason problems are hard to solve is that they involve people. People are funny. They don’t always believe the things they say they believe or do the things they say they are going to do. They can act one way in one situation and act completely differently in another situation. No one has ever completely figured this out. We call this the ‘mystery of human behavior.’

The mystery of human behavior shapes almost every problem worth solving. That’s the bad news. But there’s good news too. The mystery of human behavior also helps us see problems in new ways. By paying attention to people, we can discover new aspects of problems that help us solve them more effectively.

The nine steps in See Think Solve are designed to do just that. They will help you make sense of the mystery of human behavior that surrounds all tough problems.

  • The first six steps are about seeing — each of them shows you a new thing to look for in human behavior.

  • The next two steps are about thinking — each one is a tool you can use to better understand the human behaviors you have observed.

  • The last step is about solving — it describes what you can accomplish with your newfound knowledge.”


What People Are Saying



“I met Jeff and Andrew in 2014 when I was developing 10.10.10. Now, several times a year, we invite entrepreneurs who aspire to something more that building the next cool app, and challenge them to tackle the world's wicked problems. Of course, tackling those problems requires special tools and the approach outlined in See Think Solve is one we've used from the start. It inspires our entrepreneurs to action and equips them with a powerful new way of thinking - helping them to create compelling new ventures related to health, water and infrastructure; to raise substantial capital; and to set their sights on generating real impact.”

Tom Higley, Founder & CEO, 10.10.10



Organizational Change

“Our conversations have been very valuable and insightful to understanding how change can happen in the world and in organizations. Those insights and wisdom are packaged up perfectly in this book–a must-have toolkit for all changemakers.”

Ariba Jahan, Director of Innovation, Ad Council



Higher Education

“The first time I saw this approach in action, back in 2014, I was blown away. I immediately put it use in my classes in order to push students past the conceptual and theoretical and into how they can create impact and build innovation in the world. Students were more engaged, more enthusiastic and clearer about what they were trying to do. They understood their work within larger contexts. This is the best approach I have ever come across for understanding and design complex change.”

Dr. Annalisa Enrile, Professor, University of Southern California


Social Entrepreneurship

“Andrew and Jeff are masters of the art of finding simplicity within complexity. With See, Think, Solve, the guys have articulated and shared a process for pursuing social change that’s both pragmatic and philosophical. Having experienced the process myself, I’ve seen firsthand how this method can drive big breakthroughs amongst bold people in short amounts of time.”

Josh McManus, Founder, little things laboratory




“Jeff and Andrew will never accept the fact that they're designers. But they've just designed a framework for understanding and solving complex problems. I've worked with them around the world, and this book holds all their secrets for tackling big challenges head-on.”

Jason Ulaszek, Founder & Chief Design Officer, Inzovu




See Think Solve is simply a gem. Having devoted my professional life to identifying, understanding and connecting the interdependent variables that enable authentic transformation, this wise and extremely accessible book offers meaningful frames and questions for designing real and enduring social change.

If the essence of taking a good picture is not technique but knowing where to point the camera, Benedict-Nelson and Leitner have taken a great picture. They have pointed the ‘social change camera’ in a new direction, and by redirecting our focus, they change everything.”

Dr. Stephanie Pace Marshall, Founder Emeritus, Illinois Math & Science Academy



Who We Are


About the Authors

Andrew Benedict-Nelson and Jeff Leitner have worked together regularly since 2005 on social impact projects in the United States, Europe, and Africa. From 2010-2014, they led Insight Labs, through which they enlisted more than 600 scientists, artists, academics, and executives to rethink strategy for 45 governments, institutions and NGOs. From 2014-2018, they served as the inaugural Innovators in Residence at the University of Southern California, in the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.


Andrew is an adjunct professor at USC who also teaches classes and workshops in social change with partners all over the world. He has published book reviews and essays on that and other topics in venues such as the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement. He holds degrees from Northwestern University and The Johns Hopkins University.



Jeff is a Bretton Woods II Fellow at New America, where he partnered with the OECD to develop the first-ever sequence for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He is co-founder of UX for Good, the first effort to leverage experience design to solve social problems. Jeff holds degrees from the University of Texas and The Ohio State University.

About the Designers

David Colby Reed and Lee-Sean Huang founded Foossa, a design and social innovation consultancy, in 2013. They have worked in five continents with Fortune 500 companies, local and national governments, NGOs, and the United Nations to design brands identities, communications campaigns, and public and commercial services. 


David is a designer, strategist, and public interest technologist. In his project work, David combines insights from the behavioral sciences, economics, and user research. Much of his work concerns building inclusive financial services in the US and abroad. David is also an adjunct professor at the Parsons School of Design at The New School.



Lee-Sean Huang is a creative director and service designer who works at the intersection of design and democracy. He is interested in the role of participation and play in the future of education, work, health, and civic engagement. He has taught at New York University, the Parsons School of Design, and the School of Visual Arts.