Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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About: Human Centered Design - Design Thinking
"Empathy is the centerpiece of a human-centered design process. The Empathize mode is the work you do to understand people, within the context of your design challenge. It is your effort to understand the way they do things and why, their physical and emotional needs, how they think about world, and what is meaningful to them.

WHY empathize? As a design thinker, the problems you are trying to solve are rarely your own—they are those of a particular group of people; in order to design for them, you must gain empathy for who they are and what is important to them"
 Introduction to Design Thinking - by D.School

Human Centered Design  >  Entrepreneurship  > Leadership >


 David Kelley

"As founder of IDEO, David Kelley built the company that created many icons of the digital generation—the first mouse for Apple, the first Treo, the thumbs up/thumbs down button on your Tivo’s remote control, to name a few. But what matters even more to him is unlocking the creative potential of people and organizations so they can innovate routinely.David’s most enduring contributions to the field of design are a human-centered methodology and culture of innovation. More recently, he led the creation of the groundbreaking at Stanford, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design."

How to design breakthrough inventions -Use Empathy - 60 Minutes
"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."

Design Thinking for Social Good: An Interview with David Kelley

Avi: So Needfinding is a way of locking onto the critical problems because there are so many problems to solve.
David: You're absolutely right. The way to do it is to go out and figure out what humans actually value. Having 'empathy' for people was so exciting. You don't usually think of engineers as people people, so to speak, but my experience has been that when engineers really feel that something would be important to people, would have meaning in people's lives, that's highly motivating and it makes them work really hard.......

Avi: What are the characteristics of a designer?
David: The characteristics of a designer that I appreciate the most are this thing about having 'empathy' for people, that you expect to get your big ideas from talking to people and your own experiences, that you have a bias towards action, that you're not going to sit around and noodle strategy details for a long time, you're going to actually go out and build something and show it to people and iterate the feedback....

At some point by observing these people and building empathy for them you start to have insights about them. "Oh, they really do value this. It's not obvious at first that that's what they really value.
By Avi Solomon"

 Seung Chan Lim (Slim)

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, and engineering.

"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."

Q&A: Seung Chan Lim on improving human centered design | SmartPlanet
What does empathy have to do with innovation and technology? According to Rhode Island based designer Seung Chan Lim, plenty and not enough.

SP: The corporate environment seems like the perfect place for more empathy.

SCL: Yes! I think so, too. When you get down to it, you realize that corporations are filled with really smart and capable people but the organizational structure doesn’t allow them to utilize their talents in ways that is conducive to doing great work.

I’m also trying to raise funds for the next phase, which is to prototype a new kind of human-computer interaction paradigm for making software. I’m underwhelmed by the two predominant paradigms, textual programming and visual programming. I’d like to imbue the principles of empathic conversation into this domain."


“The Role of Empathy in Design Thinking”
This year we will host an evening event at SAP TechEd LasVegas called:
When: Wednesday, October 17th, 7:30 p.m. SAP TechEd Las Vegas
Who: Available at no extra charge to SAP TechEd registrants only
How: First-come, first-served basis: advance sign-up is required for reserved seating. Since Design Thinking starts with the ability to empathize, we will not only showcase what empathy means as part of the design thinking approach, we will also expose participants to the “how” of practicing empathy in the design process.


Youtube Videos

Sub Conference: Human Centered Design

Dave McColgin & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Product Design

Dave McColgin works at Artefact Group, which is a technology product design company. He wrote an article and white paper on, "Why you should invest in empathy."

A major step in the product design process is to empathize with the users needs in relation to designing any product. In this interview Dave walked me, step by step, through his article.

The 'Empathy: Design tool and outcome'  whitepaper. "describes additional background on the concept of empathy and answers design-related questions like:

  • How can decision makers get a better intuitive sense of their customers to complement the faceless data?

  • What are some creative ways that working teams can get a deeper sense of walking in their customers' shoes?

  • How can you recognize when there is an opportunity to increase empathy among customers?

  • How does technology act against empathy today and what can we do about it?"

Artefact: Why you should invest in empathy by Dave McColgin
"Artefact’s pursuit of 21st Century Design aspires toward preferable outcomes to benefit society, the economy, and the environment. We believe that lives are larger than interactions with a product, that users are more than targets and sources of growth. Instead they are partners in achieving societal goals. As designers, we can carefully choose what outcomes will lead to progress. In order to do that successfully, we need to approach our work with empathy – empathy towards the user, the context of the situation, and society. In this post and accompanying paper, we will explore the concept of empathy: why it matters in design and how we work to achieve this outcome in our work."

Artefact: From Theory to Practice: Designing for Empathy
"At Artefact, increasing the sense of empathy between people is an outcome we always strive towards as designers. It is a key part of our pursuit of 21st Century design because we believe that more empathy in the world is good-ness. It leads to a greater sense of understanding between people, better collaboration and more meaningful products overall. (For a more detailed discussion of empathy, see our paper). But, as with any big idea, the questions remain: How do we design for empathy in practice? Is there a process that can help us stay focused on empathy as one of our design goals? For the past ten months, we’ve been investigating this at Artefact."

Sub Conference: Human Centered Design


Museum: Design Thinking for Museums: From Empathy to Innovation
"Slides from a half-day workshop I co-led at the 2013 Museum Computer Network conference in Seattle. (innovation
Design Thinking is a human-centered, prototype-driven process for innovation. In this half-day workshop, participants experienced firsthand the complete Design Thinking cycle through a hands-on, highly interactive session."

Museum: Empathy as the starting point for innovation
"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.... I was struck by how their notion of empathy as starting point for positive solutions is similar to design thinking. Design thinking is a human-centered methodology for fostering creativity and tackling complex problems through innovative solutions, and empathy is the lynchpin of this process. "


Designing with Empathy - BD Conf, April 2013 - Aaron Gustafson
"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 service
. 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. "

Why Empathy Is At The Heart Of The DBC Experience  (Dev Bootcamp)
by Karim Bishay & Jesse Farmer
"Engineering Empathy is a philosophy and an approach that we have developed to make sure that we’re training our students to become better at learning, working in teams, and dealing with whatever their job or life throws at them. We've crafted and are always improving on our Engineering Empathy curriculum. "

50 Design Problems In 50 Days: Real Empathy For Innovation (Part 1)
"Empathetic understanding is a vital tool in fostering innovation. If we can better understand the people we are designing for, the better our decisions, designs and results will be. Travelling 2517 miles taught me that if we wish to innovate, we must go beyond analyzing people’s experiences and try and make them our own.

Understanding people better often requires us to get outside and get our hands dirty but, in doing so, allows us to better analyze and solve.... To gain empathic understanding, rather than distanced analysis, go to meet people where they are — in their environments, not in our labs. Focus groups give us some insight into people’s experiences, but they can’t enable true understanding."

MindSnacks CEO on the importance of empathy
"Jesse Pickard believes the ability to empathize with other is important for building customers and the right team."

8 Ways To Become A More Empathic Designer  by Matthew Magain
 "Empathy is one of the most important skills a UX Designer can possess. But if it's so important to be empathic, how should we go about improving? In a previous post I wrote that empathy was a core skill for becoming an effective user experience designer. Several people commented that the concept of empathy as being something you could learn (and therefore be taught) was new to them—surely this is a character trait that you either have, or you don’t?.
1. Notice Everyday Pain..
2. Be Present..
3. Shadow Your Users..
4. Walk A Mile In Their Shoes..
5. Find Common Ground..
8. Make Faces..
6. Role Play...
7. Review Research In A Group...
8. Find A Mentor..."

The Vision Before the Design: Empathy is the Key
"Reaching this vision takes a little time, planning and empathy is at the center of the task. The most successful organizations engage a broad spectrum of constituents.
Reaching this vision takes a little time, planning and empathy is at the center of the task. The most successful organizations engage a broad spectrum of constituents. It’s important to think about all of the potential “users” of a healthcare facility. Not only are the administrators and clinical staff important, but also patients, family members and support staff. The next step is to bring these groups together. Firsthand knowledge sharing is powerful."

It’s Time for Design to Start Empathy Too
In this post, Matthew Manos takes a look at advertising campaigns leveraged in the social sector and critiques their tendency to deliver content that engages with sympathy instead of empathy. Empathy is a really big word in design, specifically in the practice of “Design Thinking.” However, this article examines a different role for empathy in design, one that is very frequently overlooked.

In Design Thinking, empathy is what kicks off a project – it is the first step in understanding what the end user might need by being able to get hands-on experience understanding their problems and “pain points.” The space in which empathy is quite absent from design, however, is in communication materials, a medium that is historically sympathetic. Sympathy, as opposed to empathy, does not foster a deep understanding or emotional connection. Empathy, as opposed to sympathy, is a way for us to develop our understanding by sharing an experience."

Project Visioning Video


Empathy at scale | Design Thinking

"One of the principles of design thinking is that it requires empathy for users to inspire ideas. Normally we think about getting that from ethnographic style research. Diving deep into the lives of a relatively small number of people, understanding the environment they live in, their social networks, seeing things first hand. We have lots of evidence that this works but I sometimes wonder if we aren’t also missing something. The problem with looking deeply at a few people is that you miss the opportunity for insights that might come connecting more broadly across cultures."



How empathy is leading the way in creative fields
The new RSA animate video, The Power of Outrospection is quite thought provoking and has gotten me thinking about all kinds of links between empathy and creativity. In the video, philosopher Roman Krznaric explores the idea that we live in a time that demands more empathic adventurers in all aspects of life. Empathy not just so we act better towards others, but also because it helps us create better innovations, services and quality of life. By Ben Weinlick of Think Jar Collective"



Design Empathy
"Here is a great presentation from Braden Kowitz on optimizing the design process. Lot of insights around empathy and the importance of testing often and early. Arthur has been putting a very simila..."


Design Thinking. Bringing Empathy and Collaboration to Your Designs

"Design Thinking is a process of bringing integrative thinking, experimentalism, collaboration and empathy into the design process in a structured way. In this episode Vince and Allison walk us through the empathy and collaboration aspects of this framework."

Design Thinking – Empathy

"When it comes to integrating Design Thinking into Product Concept Design, Empathy is the crux of the matter. The goal of Design Thinking is framing Product Concept Development in terms of a ‘human-centered’ approach, and Empathy is how you relate the needs of people to your designs.
How to Build Empathy into your Next Product
While building Empathy into a product might seem like a complicated task it really only requires two key components, both of which are natural extensions of the way we do most things in life. They are:"



Oracle OpenWorld's Customer Experience Summit Day Two: Understand the Customer

"Oracle's first annual Customer Experience Summit featured plenty of advice like when to hire a chief customer officer and how to create empathy with customers.
It's Hard to Talk People into the Idea of CXM as being Important
This is where the idea of empathy comes into play. It's easier for people to understand their customers if they can see things from the customer's point of view. It turns out many businesses see customer interactions simply as pain points, and that simply is not always how customers see things."