Three years ago, I wrote a blog “Design Thinking resources #1” where I presented a set of resources (articles, books, videos) related to the overall design thinking process. In this article, I would like to extend the list with resources related to an important element of design thinking – empathy.
1. Getting people to talk: An ethnography & interviewing primer (30 min): This video is created by two students of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Institute of Design in 2008. It gives a very good perspective on what it means to interview a stranger. It highlights the difference between an ethnographic interview and a hypothesis-driven interview. It tells you about extreme user interviews and expert interviews. It brings out the key aspects of a good empathic interview (curiosity, listening, establishing a rapport, narration of stories). It also points to the common mistakes during interviewing – too much nodding, saying, “Aha, Ya, Thanks a lot, That was great, That’s interesting” which could be distracting, compounding questions, leading questions. Overall, I feel this is an excellent primer for interviewing.
2. How to do a user interview (from Google Ventures) (6 min): Many times you have a hypothesis about what the user wants. And you might have created prototypes (paper/plastic models or wireframes) and you want to validate the hypothesis. This video presents a good illustration of this process. It demonstrates 5 acts: Friendly welcome, context questions, introduction of prototypes, tasks and quick debrief. The video demonstrates that when the user actually uses your prototypes, the interviewer mostly just watches and only occasionally asks questions.
3. 3 essential elements of an empathic interview: In this article, I present 3 elements which I consider important in an empathic interview – listening, appreciation and elaboration.
4. What is an empathy map? (5 min): Empathy map is an important tool to organize data gathered through design research (interviews, observations). This short video introduces us to a basic Say-Do-Think-Feel empathy map.
5. Lego story: What the company learned from its mistakes (5 min): In this short video, the then CEO of Lego company, Soren Torp Laursen presents the difference between listening and really listening. He tells a story of how despite focus group interviews with kids, the company heard what it wanted to hear. This shows how the power of biases can act through the well-intentioned interviewing process.
6. Sonu Nigam – The roadside ustaad (6 min): Try method – i.e. trying to live like another person is a powerful empathy method. In this short video, a popular Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam is shown to spend some time singing on the street walkway dressed like a beggar. The camera captures the responses of the passers-by. And Sonu also gives his perspective later in the video. Companies like Tesco make it mandatory for executives to work behind the checkout counter a few days in a year. I learn a lot while walking on the street with my 83-year-old mother who is severely arthritic.
7. Amazon CTO Dr. Werner Vogels highlights listening to customers: This is an hour-long interview of Amazon CTO Dr. Werner Vogels. However, the part that is relevant for empathy comes around 14:00. Here Vogles articulates his role as an external-facing CTO. And he highlights the importance of listening to customers while evangelizing the technology they are developing. He says, “95% of our new features and services are a direct response to customer requests.”
Are there any empathy tools that are missing from this list? One is journey mapping. Let me see if I can find one or create one if I don’t find a satisfactory resource.
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