Insights on Human-Centered Design From Jane Fulton Suri

“Empathy as a way of understanding the world is underused.”

 - Jane Fulton Suri, Executive Design Director, IDEO

We sat down with IDEO Partner Emeritus and Executive Design Director Jane Fulton Suri to hear about her experiences and insights as a pioneer of human-centered design and empathy in design research. 

(1:38) Jane’s background: How Jane became one of the founders of the IDEO approach to human-centered design.

(7:13) Course overview: Introduction to IDEO U’s Insights for Innovation course taught by Jane Fulton Suri and Coe Leta Stafford.

(10:44) Design research ethics: Honesty, responsibility, and respect in design research and building relationships with people to glean insights and encourage collaboration.

(16:23) Design research best practices: Rules of thumb IDEO’s learned, including bringing a max of 2-3 people to in-home interviews so interviewees aren’t overwhelmed.

(19:05) Creating time for empathic work: Doing something is better than nothing. Make explicit the things you don’t know and seek out opportunities to go learn.

(22:58) A career in empathy: How empathy became essential to Jane’s design research methods.

(26:29) Course collaboration tools: An interactive learning platform, lively community, and feedback from IDEO experts.

(28:05) Vulnerability + Confidence: How to balance vulnerability and assumptions without undermining confidence throughout the process.

(31:42) Honesty + openness in interviews: The process is more about discovery and creating a space where we’re all exploring together than trying to find an honest answer.

(34:43) Human-centered design in different cultures: Realizing that these methodologies may seem very strange in some cultures. Be open to casual conversations and consider yourself a deeply interested tourist.

(38:13) Jane’s first IDEO project: Navigating tricky territories and creatively designing conversation around these.

(40:00) Research on a budget: Something’s better than nothing—getting outside your own head and your own world.

(43:59) Formulating good questions: Interviewing, framing questions, and using observation and empathy to open up questions.

(44:53) Future glimpse: How the team saw glimpses of the future in past projects.

Learn the methods Jane discusses and take your team to new territory in our Insights for Innovation online course.

Interested in more design thinking exercises? Check out our Design Thinking Overview page and Design Thinking Resources page.





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Foundations In Design Thinking - IDEO U Certificate
Designing Strategy Course from IDEO U