It happens here: Consumer-centric Innovation in Charlotte and beyond

A quick visit to a recent past: Part 1 by Nheeda Enriquez
September 23, 2009, 4:28 pm
Filed under: design research, empathy | Tags: , , , , ,

I’m off traveling for a week, so I wanted to take this opportunity to revisit three “timeless” posts on broader innovation topics.  The first is about the importance of empathy in user-centered design.



Feeling your pain: the role of empathy
June 1, 2009

There’s lots of talk of the word “empathy” right now, whether it’s the selection of a new Supreme Court justice or, in the design + business circles, the release of the book, Wired to Care, by Dev Patnaik.  Empathy is an important tool in a design researcher’s toolkit, as it forces you to see a situation from someone else’s point of view (your users, your co-workers, your suppliers.)  Immersion was one of the phases of our Innovation process at Wachovia, and we never failed to see something new each time we went out into the field to walk in the steps of our customers.

This past weekend, I brought that approach home as I found myself quickly losing patience with my boyfriend.  Brian broke his hand about a week ago, and I began to get irritated with tying his shoes or waiting for him to put his wallet away or attach the leash on the dog.  So for two hours, I borrowed his extra brace and sling and carried about my morning.  Not only had I taken the second hand for granted, I sure did realize how unsympathetic I had been.  Washing a pan or fixing my hair was a nightmare!

We’re always talking about putting customers first.  Sometimes it just takes a serving of our own medicine to remind us what that really means.  And then seeing the opportunities within those moments to inspire the next big idea.  Perhaps that one-armed dog collar is not a niche product after all.

It doesn’t take much to try it.  Here’s a lovely primer on ethnography.