Episode 12

Abhishek Sharma on collaborating with NGOs as a designer


November 16th, 2021

38 mins 27 secs

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Special Guest

About this Episode


Abhishek Sharma


Eriol Fox
Richard Littauer
Perrie Ojemeh
Memo Esparza

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain Open Source Design! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source with design. Learn how we, as designers, interface with open source in a sustainable way, how we integrate into different communities, and how we as coders, work with other designers. Our special guest today is Abhishek Sharma, who is the head of a design company called ColoredCow. He is currently managing one of the open source projects called Glific, which is a WhatsApp based open source communication platform for NGOs to have conversations with their community. Abhishek shares his journey of self-discovery when he realized he really enjoyed design and problem solving, and not engineering. He tells us about his role as Community Manager at Glific, and how listening to the communities is very important for designers who want to make meaningful, impactful products. We learn about what he wants to do in the future for the open source space with designers and he shares some “best practices” for designers to be able to collaborate with NGOs more. Go ahead and download this episode now to find out more!

[00:01:55] Abhishek tells us what he does and his role at ColoredCow and Glific

[00:03:43] With Abhishek taking on so many different job titles and job positions, Eriol wonders how Abhishek manages his time and makes sure he’s doing each of the roles well, and does he see other designers in open source doing this as well.

[00:07:08] We find out how Abhishek’s started to engage in creative projects and the path leading to where he is today.

[00:10:37] How does Abhishek engage the kinds of people that Glific is most useful for?

[00:14:52] Perrie asks Abhishek based on him working on the community engagement part if he thinks getting people together and then giving them space to learn, if that will increase the adoption of products.

[00:16:54] Memo wonders how Abhishek interacts with this open source culture in his organization with design.

[00:18:36] How does Abhishek view himself as a Designer as well as a Community Manager?

[00:20:13] Eriol shares their thoughts on what Richard and Abhishek were talking about with the role of the Community Manager and listening to communities.

[00:23:09] Abhishek shares how he wants to engage designers in the open source space in the future. Also, he talks about how a lot of designers want to know everything before they start producing something.

[00:29:56] We learn from Abhishek what the “best practices” are that designers have to learn to be able to collaborate with NGOs more.

[00:32:24] Find out where you follow Abhishek on the internet.


[00:07:41] “And I did a quick self-discovery where I wanted, I drew some Venn diagrams, figured out, okay, this is what I’m good at.”

[00:08:37] “I was really not good at it at the beginning, I was just full of ambition that: okay, this is what I wanted to do.”

[00:10:48] “I have started seeing my role as equating product management to actually being this community facilitator, and engagement creator for lack of a better word.”

[00:11:48] “It’s not really the tech or the solution, it’s really about the problem that the NGOs are solving, so it kind of gives them a space or the topic that there is a need with.”

[00:12:27] “We are actively building a support channel and community space where these NGOs can interact with each other, with their team, development team, design team, support team, and with each other so they can learn from each other.”

[00:18:47] “The thing that happens as a Community Manager role is it keeps increasing your empathy towards the users, towards the space, because as a designer, what I need to do is solve problems.”

[00:19:42] “I feel this role of being a Community Manager and listening to the communities is very important for all designers out there who want to make meaningful impactful products.”

[00:21:33] “I if you’re not telling the right story of the product, then also you lose a lot of the impact of the product.”

[00:26:29] “What ends up happening is when you create you first learn, but when you learn you’re not creating.”

[00:26:43] “It’s like a math problem: you can’t solve a problem just by reading math, you have to actually solve those problems.”


  • [00:33:56] Memo’s spotlight is a resource repository model called Nice Very Nice.
  • [00:34:35] Perrie’s spotlight is a new open source initiative called Open Source Stories.
  • [00:35:21] Richard’s spotlight is Tiny Cat, the online catalog for tiny libraries.
  • [00:35:51] Eriol’s spotlight is a project made by the Federation of Humanitarian Technologists and the tool called Coalesce.
  • [00:36:55] Abhishek’s spotlights are the open source design community, and a project that they do at ColoredCow called Code Trek.