"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."
A book called Against
out in late 2016. Author Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology and
cognitive science, has consequently gotten a lot of exposure for such an
eye-catching title. I’ve found contradictions in what he says. (e.g.
empathy means many things vs. empathy is feeling what the other person
is feeling) I got a chance to speak with Steve Paulson of Wisconsin
Public Radio’s To
the Best of Our Knowledge about
using cognitive empathy in product design. Podcast: Does
empathy have a design flaw?(21
"Indi: Great! Thank
you, Martha. That was a great intro. Hi everybody, presumably you’ve already
found the little door in your brain that lets new things in, and you’ve opened
it, because we’re going to talk about empathy. Yeah, empathy. That word means
a lot of things to a lot of people, and quite frequently it gets associated
with little hearts, hearts everywhere. I even see them when other people try
to talk about empathy in relationship to the book that I just finished
Through her talk, Indi Young explains how we must ask and listen more as a
means to get past our assumptions. Absorbing eclectic ideas, understanding
varied work patterns and incorporating different ways of thinking will help
broader ideas sprout. She categorizes Empathy into Emotional and Cognitive
Empathy, giving us examples of both.
Chapter 2: Empathy Brings Balance
"Going deeper than assumptions and opinions in your understanding of people is
powerful. If your organization is captivated by metrics, empathy will balance
out the numbers. Being honest about what you don’t know, being interested in
the simpler underlying philosophies that make people tick—these
characteristics are what can catalyze your creativity and your collaboration."
"The best product
managers, designers, product teams, and leaders are experts at practicing
empathy. But empathy is not what you think. Ask anyone what empathy is, and
they'll say it means to walk in someone else's shoes. And that is part of it.
But walking in someone's shoes is how you apply empathy. First, you need to
develop empathy. In this on-demand webinar, Indi Young shows you practical
ways your team can develop and practice empathy to help understand your users
and make better decisions. This webinar is for anyone who is working to
deliver useful products, content, and experiences that delight their
In our recent webinar, Indi Young, UX consultant and author of “Practical
Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work”, shares some helpful
insights on using empathy when soliciting feedback. Here are our top 4
1. Collaborative and
creative empathy doesn’t equal sympathy...
"Empathy is a
hot topic in business lately. Teams who go outside their organization to
develop empathy for their customers are crafting winning products that
deliver on the wants, needs, and desires of their audiences. But empathy
not only plays a critical role with those we serve; it also has a vital
role inside the team–collaboration is enhanced and individuals are
empowered when their own needs and goals are understood."
IxDA 2015: Make the
Case for Empathy - empathy, person-focused research, product strategy (A video
of my presentation at IxDA 2015 will be available shortly.)
"If you listen to many people, you'll start to see patterns in how they
reason, react, and guide their decisions. These patterns are what you use to
balance big data. It's pretty simple, but mention to your boss that you want
to go listen to how people think, and he'll assign you three new projects just
to avoid that fuzzy qualitative data you might bring back. In an atmosphere
where "hard numbers" and "scientific approaches" are held in greatest esteem,
you have your work cut out for you to demonstrate that words are not useless
fuzzy concepts. Your best weapon in this struggle? Understand how your bosses
think. Understand the reasons numbers are held so dear. Develop empathy with
your bosses, then address the underlying goals confidently with your
"A note from the
editors: In Practical Empathy, Indi Young underscores the importance of
developing empathy—and helps us improve our listening, gain perspective, and
balance our business practices in the process. We're pleased to bring you
this excerpt from Chapter 4 of Practical Empathy."
develop empathy, you need to understand a person’s mind at a deeper level than
is usual in your work. Since there are no telepathy servers yet, the only way
to explore a person’s mind is to hear about it. Words are required. A person’s
inner thoughts must be communicated, either spoken aloud or written down. You
can achieve this in a number of formats and scenarios."
An excerpt from
Practical Empathy explains how to make change on the inside | UX Magazine
exists for a purpose: to bring something to the world, make it available to
people, and enable those people to capitalize upon it. Many organizations
exist to also make a profit. Whether for profit or not, all organizations
seek to sustain themselves, so they can continue bringing their things to the
world. Within each organization, there is usually a healthy awareness of the
purpose, as well as a focus on being sustainably successful."
"There’s one skill that every wildly successful product manager, UX designer,
businessperson, and leader has in common. It helps them unite teams and ship
products that customers love time and time again. What could possibly unite
all these technologists? It’s conscious and deliberate empathy. "
Indi Young at IIT Design Research
"In her presentation, author Indi Young will discuss how to make sure
mental models truly represents the root of what is driving your user's
natural behavior. It is easy to make assumptions; research often stops
at this preference level. However, there is so much more to find out
about people. If you learn to listen and notice where you make
assumptions about what people are saying or doing, you can learn to dig
deeper. Using what she calls the hallway test, Indi will discuss how to
stop yourself and ask what is really behind something."
There are many kinds of empathy: emotional empathy, mirror neurons,
empathic concern, personal distress, self empathy, and cognitive
empathy. There are also many uses for empathy: to help/relieve, to
persuade, to change someone's mind, to better support a person, etc.
When you say you are using empathy in your work, you probably mean
something different than another person does. So. If you have a better
understanding of all these definitions, you'll be better able to reach
for the right tool at the right moment. Moreover, you'll be able to
understand the differences between what decision-makers need in order to
face risk. You'll be able to articulate the role empathy plays in the
post-industrial creative age.
Empathy - a lot of
concepts around this
Mirrored empathy -
understand our brain
purposeful understanding with reasoning
Indy is interested
in cognitive empathy
empathy with listening
perspective taking -
- take time to let it simmer
finding patterns in
what you hear - applied empathy
Wants to use
empathy for supporting people better
empathy applies to
anything you make
is empathy important?
organizations have been designed for manufacturing era
Empathy is alive and and well in UX design. Many people apply empathy in
their work. The slight problem is that the word “empathy” means
different things to different people. And applying empathy doesn’t
exactly bring a clear scenario to everyone’s mind. This presentation
hopes to remedy this deficiency by providing a practice and vocabulary
to develop and apply empathy in your work."
Sound SIGCHI hosts Indi Young for a full day workshop focusing on
empathy. The workshop will cover two types of empathy, intentional and
constructed. You will learn how to develop listening skills for
empathy, how to interpret and analyze what people have said, identify
patterns and incorporate these skills into your practice."
"The skill you need is a purposeful, practical form of
empathy. Used at organizations, internally or externally, it is a more
powerful way to exceed your mission statement than traditional
programs for decreasing costs and inefficiency."
"Bringing empathy to design is very important if you want to add meaning
to the products and services we create. In this series Indi Young
(author of Mental Models and founding partner of Adaptive Path) shares
her thoughts about this subject.
Interviewing for Empathy
"Empathizing with people's underlying motivations opens up different
avenues for supporting their behavior. A correctly collected set of
interviews illuminates the users' world and allows you to generate
better ideas and tell a more compelling story to product developers and
business executives. So many organizations use internal justifications
for creating stuff, and so often this stuff fails because it only meets
the intentions of people internal to the organization....
Listening deeply, not tracking a script, is the key to non-directed
interviews. Essentially, you want the person to tell you what's
important to her, not find out how she responds to what you think is
important. When conducting generative interviews it is important to
relax and let the conversation flow, exploring sub-topics that your
participant brings up and seems to emphasize or hesitate about."
Finding Empathy Through Generative Research
"These days, most people have an idea what user research means. Even
outside the usual circles of people we work with, the concept at least
correlates to surveys or product testing. For the most part, however,
people I run across have a strictly evaluative understanding of user
"At at recent workshop, I conducted a spontaneous interview as a
demonstration of what I mean by "create a scope perimeter within which
any conversation can happen." I asked for a volunteer and for a topic.
The volunteer was Daren...."
Mental Models, Empathy, and Design
"Wish you had more time to deeply understand customer reasoning before
making communication and design decisions? Mental models diagrams
represent the underlying philosophies and emotions that drive people's "
"Mental Models: Sparking Creativity Through Empathy
Mental models are diagrams that represent the underlying philosophies and
emotions that drive people's behavior, matched up with the ways you support
them with your product. Rather than knowing "I like to go to movies alone,"
you'll dig down to the myriad reasons why. (E.g. "I like to give the director
the attention and respect he deserves, because when I wrote a play in college,
people didn't pay attention very well, they didn't get the point, and I felt
Knowing the motivating philosophy opens up different avenues for
supporting the behavior. You could, for example, offer additional means for
this type of moviegoer to "get the point" of the movie. Mental models are
useful as structures for attaching these ideas to sets of philosophies and for
generating new ideas in places where there are gaps."