discuss her article: The Other Side of Empathy
"Some people experience having 'too much' empathy - over empathizing with
people and situation so that it becomes 'harmful to oneself and others."
‘Empathy’ is classically described as ‘stepping into another’s shoes’, and
is at the core of design thinking. As designers, we endeavour to be
empathic and understand the needs of the people we are serving, in order to
design around these needs and ensure our interventions are helpful. In my
experience however, ‘empathy’ covers a bigger and messier realm. I have
found that it is often wrongly used in the world of design, casually spoken
about as a thing you ‘do’ rather than a thing you ‘have’."
"Indi Young is an expert consultant in user experience,
offering her services in empathy research, strategy, and redesign to
organizations around the world. She has helped with digital applications,
services, process design, and content strategy. She focuses on helping
engineers, designers, and stakeholders tackle the hardest problems by
understanding the people they're trying to support. Indi offers workshops
for any size group and provides consulting on an affordable basis. She
offers her services directly and also through the Rosenfeld Media Experts
group." Indi is author of,
Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work. (Put
in the promotion code "CULTURE" for a book discount on the Rosenfeld
"Conventional product development focuses on the solution.
Empathy is a
mindset that focuses on people, helping
you to understand their thinking
From the book forward."Indi Young's book is a practical manual for practicing
empathy, which is a skill, not an innate talent. Empathy is a mindset that
can be learned and improved with practice. There are best practices,
techniques, and tools that help you get your own ego out of the picture and
focus on what things are like from another person's perspective. It is not
easy to do really well, but it is worth doing really well! And Indi's book
shows you how to do it.
Practical Empathy offers advice on how to practice an empathetic mindset
toward other people involved in the conception, design, or implementation
of a product."
Human-centered design begins from deep empathy and
needs and motivations of people - the parents, neighbors,
colleagues, and strangers who make up your everyday community.
Acumen Course Handbook
Designer Cindy van den Bremen was born in
1972 in Vlissingen, a town in the south-west of the Netherlands by the Sea.
From an early age she developed a broad interest in other cultures and
religions. Cindy works independent from her studio CvdBremen in Eindhoven
as an Empathic Designer with an expertise in Cultural Diversity and
teaches at the Technical University in her hometown at the Faculty of
Industrial Design. She gives lectures, presentations & workshops to a
variety of audiences both national and internationally, both in the Dutch
and English language.
Cindy teaches a design workshop titled,
the necessity of Empathy. From the workshop description,
"Designing is the ability to empathize with others. As the title would
assume this lecture and workshop focused on empathy and the necessity of
the added value of empathy in co-design processes. How does empathy help
you in co-design projects? How can you apply it and how can it be an
inspiration in your concept development?
These themes were
discussed and experienced in an interactive and inspiring afternoon. I
realized the complexity of empathy and importance of finding a common
ground. When working with a user to make sure that he or she can find
their own goal and inner motivation."
"Designing is the ability to empathize with others...
How does empathy help you in co-design projects?
How can you apply it and how can it be an inspiration in
Mitroff Silvers is a web strategy and implementation consultant and
workshop facilitator with experience launching digital products in museums,
nonprofits, and educational organizations. A theme in her current work is
how mission-driven organizations can integrate principles of human-centered
design into their practice.
She writes, "One of the core principles of design thinking
is its focus on human values at every stage of the process. And empathy for
the people for whom you’re designing is fundamental to this process...
There have been several recent discussions about empathy in museum
practice, ranging from Regan Forrest’s writings about empathy in the
context of interpretation on the Interactivate blog to Gretchen Jenning’s
write-up about The Empathetic Museum at AAM to Suse Cairns’s post on the
Museum Geek blog, On the paradoxes of empathy.
I’m thrilled that empathy seems to be an emerging meme among my museum
peers. The current discussions touch on the application of empathy at all
levels of museums, from institutional policy to interpretive practices. One
aspect of empathy that I think is missing in these discussions is how it is
used and applied in the context of the design thinking process."
Sim Van der Ryn has been a teacher, writer, researcher, and
practitioner of design for forty years. A leading authority on ecologically
sustainable architecture and design, he is Emeritus Professor of
Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught
Sim is author of numerous books including his most recent,
Design for an
Empathic World: Reconnecting People, Nature, and Self. "He
advocates for “empathic design”, in which a designer not only works in
concert with nature, but with an understanding of and empathy for the end
user and for ones self. It is not just one of these connections, but all
three that are necessary to design for a future that is more humane,
equitable, and resilient."
"In Design for an Empathic World, Sim Van Der Ryn
weaves the architecture of empathy for self, others and nature into a
vibrant, compassionate whole. Brimming with gratitude, Van Der Ryn tells
stories from his life as an architect, teacher and thought leader. His
lesson, that only with empathy can we repair the fabric of humans and
nature." Jonathan F.P. Rose Sub Conference: Human-CenteredDesign
Seung Chan Lim, better known as
Slim, is the director for project Realizing Empathy. Realizing Empathy is
a project that asks what it means to make something, how it works as a
process, and why it matters to our lives. It explores these questions
across disciplines such as fine arts, performing arts, design, science,
Slim says,"As a designer, I must find ways to harness the most complex
of technologies into an experience that is not only pleasant, but also
empowering and meaningful. As an engineer, I must make sure that I can not
only talk the above talk, but also walk the above walk. As a strategist, I
must make sure that the talk is not only talked, but heard, and the walk is
not only walked, but seen."
"What I have learned from this experience is that making things is
analogous to engaging in an empathic conversation with another person." Sub Conference: Human-Centered Design
Patrick Quattlebaum is Managing Director of
Adaptive Path, an experience
strategy and design company. Patrick is also an in demand consultant who
helps organizations envision, architect, and manifest new product and
service experiences. He’s a passionate strategist, designer, humanist,
storyteller, facilitator, and teacher. Patrick wrote an article 'Service
Design Soft Skill Builder: Empathy' about
using and practicing empathy in the Human-Centered Design process.
In this dialog we discussed his article
and explored ways to increase and practice our personal empathy skills.
Patrick writes, "We, the design community, talk (and
write and speak) a lot about empathy. We lament the empathy deficit in
our companies and clients and cry "something must be done about
this." We tout personas, empathy maps, experience maps, and other
methods as empathy deficit reducers that lead to better experiences (and
profits). Some, at the extremes, position human-centered designers
as Platonic figures releasing stakeholders from the shadows of opinion
and faceless analytics into the reality of human emotions, needs, and
desires. We talk a lot about other people's empathy. But what about your own?
What about mine? "
Indi Young is a user experience consultant, author, founding
partner at Adaptive Path.
"My book about empathy and generating better services and products for the
people you support via mental model diagrams is gaining more and more
attention. I'm happy to teach a workshop for your organization or help your
team through the method... Empathy is your tool for understanding how
people think and feel. Schooling your thoughts to think and feel the way
someone else does is a powerful way to do a lot of things, including design
and guiding the direction of your work." Sub Conference: Human-Centered
"Giselle recently graduated from Cornell University where
she majored in Psychology. As a pre-med, Giselle spent every summer
volunteering around the world where she learnt the importance of
intercultural and interdisciplinary work, something she now strives to
apply in every facet of her life. Excited to make an impact in cities at
home and abroad, Giselle hopes to use her work as a
Design for America
fellow to help other students find the same passion and excitement for
human-centered design that has fueled and informed her projects for the
last four years."
Rob Calvey is
a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow at
Design for America. In this interview we
talked about Empathy, Human Centered Design and Design For America. Rob is
working on a process manual for Design For America and is writing about
empathy. Edwin also interviewed Rob about his personal needs for empathy in
the design process. Sub Conference: Human-Centered
is a Fellow at
Design for America. Graduating from Columbia in 2013, Julian comes to
DFA with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and an explosive passion for
innovation. As a DFA Fellow, Julian hopes to unite the various studios by
inspiring and producing life-changing projects that improve communities.
In this interview Julian shared his personal experience and insights into
the nature of empathy as related to Human-Centered Design. We also talked
about his personal needs for empathy. Julian shared his story of how he
became interested in Human-Centered Design. He wants to have a deeper and
ongoing empathic connection with people he is designing for.
Being a designer is
a 9 to 5 kind of a job, but
an empathic way of being in the world.
Sub Conference: Human-Centered Design
to design breakthrough inventions "Global firm IDEO incorporates human behavior into product design -- an
innovative approach being taught at Stanford. Charlie Rose profiles the
company's founder, David Kelley."
They encourage wild ideas and visualize solutions by making actual
prototypes. But the main tenet is empathy for the consumer, figuring out
what humans really want by watching them.
David Kelley: If you want to improve a piece of software, all's you have to
do is watch people using it and see where they grimace and then correlate
that to where they are in the software. And you could fix that, right? And
so the thing is to really build empathy, try to understand people through
Charlie Rose: It's not
rocket science, it's what?
David Kelley: It's empathetic.
Charlie Rose: Empathetic?
David Kelley: It's empathetic to people. Like really like try to really
understand what they really value.
David Kelley on Designing Curious Employees "Kermit Pattison: How has the design thinking model influenced your
approach to leading people? David Kelley: The main tenet of design thinking is empathy for the
people you're trying to design for. Leadership is exactly the same
thing--building empathy for the people that you're entrusted to help.
Once you understand what they really value, it's easy because you can
mostly give it to them. You can give them the freedom or direction that
they want. By getting down into the messy part of really getting to know
them and having transparent discussions, you can get out of the way and
let them go. The way I would measure leadership is this: of the people
that are working with me, how many wake up in the morning thinking that
the company is theirs?""
"Every decision we make affects the way real people
experience our products. We’ve all heard the rallying cry for
user-centered design, but even those of us who ascribe to that ideal
often fall back on our own biases and instincts when it comes to making
decisions about how people experience our content and our services.
Sadly, this often means we make decisions we think will be good for our
"users"—that anonymous, faceless crowd—rather than actually trying to
understand the perspectives, surroundings, capabilities, and
disadvantages of the actual people who we are here to serve.
In this session, Aaron Gustafson will explore why empathy is a good
thing, how empathy empowers creativity, and how we, as a community, can
inject more empathy into our work."