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  • Jelena Woehr

    Love this! The emphasis on the human element is perfect.

  • Hannah Wasserman

    I have been making more of a concerted effort to "learn by doing", which it sounds like is in a similar vein as empathy exercises. There is some controversy around "pretend to be poor" empathy exercises, like when Cory Booker lived on food stamps for a week. It seems to me that he was just employing design thinking-- he is the mayor, he wanted to better understand some of his constituants' experience. What do you think of exercises like these? Do you think they are offensive or just good research for those trying to solve social issues?

    • Sina Mossayeb

      This is a great point you raise. I don't think empathy exercises at all attempt to suggest you could KNOW what it's like to experience what someone else has to live with, especially complicated identities or experiences. But when it comes to design, to give a little more context of richness to interviews, observations, etc., we can learn quite a lot by "sampling" the experience of those on the end side of our designs. For example, to design for a better patient experience, one design research went through all the motions of an admitted patient. He held a cam corder the whole time. Turns out most of what he captured on camera was florescent lights and cork board ceiling. In no way does he pretend to know what someone who is suffering from some ailment is going through, but certainly by going through the motions, he was able to gleam insight that he might have missed otherwise. Being sensitive with such research is key; being honest about how much empathy you can generate is also important. I'm not as critical as those you mentioned, and lean more towards trying out things (however imperfect) towards understanding.

      • Hannah Wasserman

        Thanks so much for your reply, Sina. I'm in the same boat-- I think if you are sensitive doing such exercises help me understand.

  • Hillary Newman

    Great piece. I particularly liked the second approach of looking at extremes to find unconventional solutions. I would like to try all three of these techniques the next time I'm in a bind or planning a strategy.

    • Sina Mossayeb

      Awesome. Try it out and let us know how it turns out here.

  • terre

    Now if you can come up with the way to "sell" it to those in charge of making decisions....I've been trying for years to get my kids' schools to start gardens, but without the right person behind it it won't go. Even the Common Core, while theoretically a great idea for innovation, only works if someone does it.

    • Sina Mossayeb

      I can empathize with the frustration with slow moving systems. I've come to realize that sometimes, more often than not, having a working prototype of the thing, showing efficacy, often helps more conservative systems to adopt innovations. Why not get some local hardware/garden store to "sponsor" a mobile garden that they roll around every day or once a week, or perhaps a local store or park that you can do the garden instead and walk kids over? Just a few thoughts. But sometimes creating parallel efforts can actually have a powerful indirect impact on the ultimate target. Thanks for sharing this!

  • AllieArmitage

    "If we use these methods, we might find that solutions are more accessible than we currently believe."

    I really believe that point is critical to the process - it is incredibly inventive when you find solutions within the resources you have or are in easy reach. It will require you to be more creative and ingenious, but it will inspire the 'why didn't I think of that?' ...

    Great article!

    • Sina Mossayeb

      Thanks Allie. Great point about using the resources at your disposal first. Made me think of the Wright brothers using spare parts to build their prototypes of the airplane. Langley had thousands of dollars (millions by our standard) and wasn't able to come up with the first working model.

  • Leticia831

    I just discovered I am a designer. Thank you for that. I have been intuitively problem solving like a designer and I am just know realizing. Its refreshing to know there are others out there solving problems for humanity. I am currently studying to be a teacher, and I found this to be very encouraging.

      • Diana Ahrens

        wow - just checked out this site and looks like some awesome resources. i'm going to share this with some teachers i know!

      • Leticia831

        Thanks for the excellent resource. I believe there is a revolution coming to education and I am thankful I to be apart of it.

  • gajanaku

    This is awesome, thanks for sharing !!

    • Sina Mossayeb

      Thanks. Would love to hear your thoughts.

    • Sina Mossayeb

      You know what? I actually haven't ever read any of the research behind dating sites, but my hunch told me there is a lot to learn from all their prototypes, experience, and innovative ways of doing what humans have been doing for a long time (getting to know/meet each other) but in a new way. Thanks for sharing this link!

  • lilah shepard

    Very important stuff to keep in mind. Design is not about producing well crafted products or systems but rather well-designed experiences for the users. Addressing the "human elements on all sides" - crucial for empathetic design. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sina Mossayeb

      That's an interesting provocation Lilah. I think there is room for design to be about a lot of different things, but what really helps in designing "well" is clarity of purpose. Also, well said about "human elements on all sides" when it comes to empathetic design.

      • Lindsey Smith

        This is a great article. Just bookmarked it, so I know where to come back when I am trying to solve an issue. Considering the human perspective and reaction was my favorite tip! I love the phrase "empathy exercises" and the creative solutions to an employee/employer problem.

        • robynmcintyre

          One of the things I like best about design thinking is the underlying emphasis on curiosity. Curiosity can lead us to find tools and information in what would usually be considered unlikely places. After a while, you realize that the old chesnut 'everything is everything else' has real application,