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D.School > How Empathy Relates to Human Centered Design


Developing empathic leaders through design: Sami Nerenberg at TEDxIndianapolis
Developing empathic leaders through design: Sami Nerenberg at TEDxIndianapolis | Empathy in the Workplace |  

Big Idea: "Developing Empathic Leaders Through Design"

Currently the Director of Operations for Design for America (DFA) and a lecturer at the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University, Sami Nerenberg, a San Francisco native, is passionate about the intersection of design education and local/social impact. 

Imagine interdisciplinary student teams and community members using design to create local, social impact. What about teaching human-centered design to young adults and collaborating community partners through extra-curricular, university-based, student-led design studios that tackle national challenges in education, health, economy and the environment? This year, two of these start-ups, SwipeSense and Jerry the Bear, have gone on to raise nearly $1.5 million in start-up capital, with more hot projects in the pipeline. Learn how game-changing approaches in higher education are developing innovative leaders ready to deliver social impact..


Coca-Cola, Colostomy Bags and Cross-Dressing: Tips for Building Rapid Empathy by Karsten Fischer - HuffPost
Coca-Cola, Colostomy Bags and Cross-Dressing: Tips for Building Rapid Empathy | Empathy in the Workplace |   CEO, PDD, global product and service design and innovation consultancy
"Apart from that brief outburst, the faces of the participants in our Human-Centred Design (HCD) workshop are crinkled with concentration as they calculate the number of carbs they consumed in their last meal. They're not trying the newest low-carb diet, but putting themselves in the shoes of someone with diabetes--feeling, first-hand, what it's like to count their blood glucose levels to ensure they adjust their insulin intake correctly. That walk-a-mile-immersion exercise is just one example of the methods we use to build rapid empathy in which we (as researchers and designers) help our audience (students, clients) to quickly understand the challenges that people face with a product, service, or process.  "
Rapid Empathy by Karsten Fischer  - PDD
CEO, PDD, global product and service design and innovation consultancy
"You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird.  Atticus Finch knew that the key to understanding people was building empathy for them. In this post we explore the role of empathy in innovation and our experiences with rapid empathy-building exercises. So, what is the role of empathy in design and innovation? 


Human Centered Design: Course Threads: Products of Empathy
  "The Course Thread Program allows UC Berkeley undergraduates to explore intellectual themes that connect courses across departments and disciplines. Without creating new majors or minors, the program instead highlights connections between existing courses. Course Threads help students see the value in educational breadth while also pursuing a more in-depth and well-rounded knowledge on one particular topic. "


Empathic design - Wikipedia
    "Empathic design is a user-centered design approach that pays attention to the user's feelings toward a product (Crossley 2003).[1][2] The empathic design process is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Empathetic design.[3] The foundation of empathic design is observation and the goal is to identify latent customer needs in order to create products that the customers don’t even know they desire or, in some cases, solutions that customers have difficulty envisioning due to lack of familiarity with the possibilities offered by new technologies or because locked in an old mindset. Empathic design relies on observation of consumers as opposed to traditional market research[4] which relies on consumer inquiry with the intention to avoid possible biases in surveys and questions, and minimizes the chance that consumers will provide false information. Observations are carried out by a small team of specialists, such as an engineer, a human-factors expert, and a designer. Each specialist then documents their observations and the session is videoed to capture subtle interactions such as body language and facial expressions."



Workshop on "Making as Empathic Conversation" (2 Days

  "This workshop is for a group of 12 pre-selected Brown and RISD students.

The goal of the workshop is to create not only a greater awareness of the empathic conversation between the maker and the material they are making with, but also how the same principles of empathic conversation can be translated and applied to human relationships in general, to foster greater opportunities for constructive collaborations and cooperation across cultures and disciplines."

Post-Workshop Panel on "Making as Empathic Conversation"
Sponsored by the Creative Art Council at Brown University, students and instructors involved in the 2-day workshop on "Making as Empathic Conversation" came together to reflect on the workshop.  "


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.

 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."


Breaking assumptions with empathy
Breaking assumptions with empathy | Empathy in the Workplace |


"Over and over, one of the big lessons in design thinking seems to be don’t assume—discover directly. The insights gained from talking directly to users informs our understanding of their needs,

Have you ever noticed how sometimes an idea you are exploring just seems to be everywhere you turn? Right now, for me, the idea is design thinking. In April, I not only went to one workshop, but by the time the month was over, I had experienced three introductory design thinking workshops. 

 In these sessions, I spent time redesigning the morning experience, re-conceptualizing weddings, and, the one most useful to my world, rethinking the student orientation experience at my institution, John F Kennedy University in Berkeley, CA. Susan Spero, Ph.D., a faculty member in the Museum Studies program at John F. Kenney University in Berkeley, CA. "



8 Ways To Become A More Empathic Designer
8 Ways To Become A More Empathic Designer | Empathy in the Workplace |  
"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? by Matthew Magain "

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


Artefact: From Theory to Practice: Designing for Empathy
Artefact:  From Theory to Practice: Designing for Empathy | Empathy in the Workplace |  

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.





O'Reilly Webcast: The Power of Story: Creating empathy and connection in our products


How journalists can improve their storytelling by embracing design thinking - Empathy


Why empathy is an economic necessity - can help companies develop new products


Innovation Always Starts With Empathy; Look at Zipcar and Even Apple










Breaking assumptions with empathy













Empathy Exercises